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As Bob Iger and Disney Execs Attended ‘Wish’ Premiere, News of Strike Ending Kicked the Celebration Into Overdrive

Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, the Los Angeles premiere of Walt Disney Animation’s latest film “Wish” on Wednesday night was set to be a star-free affair — well, save for the literal star on which the movie is based.

But just before 5 p.m., the union announced that, after 118 days, the strike would come to an end as of 12:01 a.m. PT on Thursday.

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Of course, that meant the animated movie’s cast — including Oscar winner Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine — weren’t allowed to make a quick change into their red carpet finest and hustle over to the El Capitan Theatre for a screening set to begin at 7 p.m., but the mood was jubilant nonetheless.

With the film serving as a celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary, the studio pulled out all the stops for the pre-premiere party on Hollywood Blvd., launching a “Wish” drone show in the skies above the theater and bringing in Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for photo opportunities. As word began to spread that SAG-AFTRA had approved the deal, the critics, journalists and publicists gathered on the electric blue carpet began buzzing about what would come next.

One critic was overheard saying, “Now this really feels like a celebration.” Others expressed relief, hopeful to interview talent again.

Disney’s top brass were all smiles too, with CEO Bob Iger spotted in conversation with co-chairman Alan Bergman and “Wish” filmmakers Jennifer Lee (Disney Animation’s chief creative officer) and Chris Buck.

After posing for photographers, the quartet headed inside the theater, but they didn’t take the stage to introduce the film. Instead, house organist Rob Richards played the El Capitan’s 4/37 Wurlitzer organ and the film started promptly. Also in attendance were Buck’s co-director Fawn Veerasunthorn; producers Peter Del Vecho and Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster Jones.

Many from the Disney team had just arrived back in L.A. from Las Vegas where Marvel Studios took over the Sphere for the world premiere “fan screening” of “The Marvels” on Tuesday night. Only the filmmakers, led by Marvel chief Kevin Feige and the film’s director Nia DaCosta, could participate in that event ahead of the movie’s theatrical launch on Friday.

Meanwhile, “Wish” doesn’t open in theaters until Nov. 22, so the studio has less than two weeks to get talent on board for publicity, which leaves plenty of time for press junkets and interviews. The first FYC event will be on Thursday night in Los Angeles with the filmmakers confirmed to attend, as well as DeBose and songwriter Julia Michaels.

The animated musical “Wish” celebrates the studio’s 100-year animation legacy and stars DeBose as Asha, a 17-year-old who lives in the magical kingdom of Rosas — a fantastical place ruled by Disney’s newest villain, Pine’s King Magnifico, and built on people’s wishes and hopes. When Asha makes a wish one night, she finds herself encountering “Star,” a cosmic energetic character from the star-filled sky after unintentionally summoning him.

The film also features the voices of Alan Tudyk, who voices Asha’s pet goat Valentino, as well as Angelique Cabral, Victor Garber, Natasha Rothwell, Jennifer Kumiyama, Harvey Guillén, Niko Vargas, Evan Peters, Ramy Youssef, Jon Rudnitsky and Della Saba. “Wish” is co-directed by Buck and Veerasunthorn and written by Lee and Allison Moore.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 08: (L-R) Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster Jones, Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn, Jennifer Lee, CCO at WDAS and Peter Del Vecho attend the World Premiere of Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Wish" at El Capitan Theatre in [Hollywood], California on November 08, 2023. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster Jones, Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho attend the World Premiere of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish.”

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