Musicians Union Pickets Marvel for Outsourcing Scoring Overseas

Captain America Sequal Press Image Shield - H 2013
Marvel Entertainment

Captain America Sequal Press Image Shield - H 2013

The AFM says the studio that is producing "Captain America 2" is taking actions that are “un-American and unfair.”

Continuing an effort that began last June, members of American Federation of Musicians Local 47 picketed Disney’s Marvel Entertainment Tuesday morning, demanding that the studio stop outsourcing its musical score work to Europe. The picket lines are informational, and the union is not on strike against the company.

The union says that Marvel benefits from U.S. tax credits, yet hires musicians -- and only musicians -- overseas, under non-union contracts with a buyout that includes no provisions for re-use payments (residuals), pension or health benefits.

“Marvel lines its pockets with taxpayer money, taking care of everyone who works on their films -- except musicians,” says AFM international president Ray Hair.

A representative of Marvel declined to comment.

According to the union, Marvel has sent film scoring work abroad for every motion picture it has produced, while all other personnel hired for the productions are American and paid under union contracts.

The picket lines were set up at a location shoot for Captain America 2 (four people, a union spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter) and, later in the morning, at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood (at least 20 people). According to the union, Marvel plans to score the film in Europe.

“We don't think that's fair,” said Marc Sazer, international president of the Recording Musicians Association, an advocate group for recording musicians within the AFM. “Captain America 2 should be scored here at home -- just like the acting, directing, writing, truck driving, catering, carpentering and everything else.”

In June 2012, the AFM picketed Marvel for scoring The Avengers overseas. Marvel received $30 million in tax incentives for that film from Ohio and New Mexico, the union said, and Iron Man 3 received U.S. tax credits from North Carolina. But in both cases, the music jobs were sent overseas, according to the union.

In addition, on April 12, musicians protested outside a location shoot for Captain America 2 and last August, a contingent of musicians traveled to North Carolina and led a string of demonstrations during the filming of Iron Man 3. The union said it has initiated repeated talks with Marvel, but that the studio refuses to cover musicians under a union contract.

The union added that studios signatory to the AFM agreement, like Sony Pictures’ Columbia, that have licensed Marvel characters (Spider-Man, X-Men), hire union musicians to record the scores.

“Marvel's actions toward professional musicians are un-American and unfair,” said Hair, “and we want the world to know it.”

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Twitter: @jhandel