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Here's Why Director Justin Simien Attended The Haunted Mansion Premiere

Here's Why Director Justin Simien Attended The Haunted Mansion Premiere

justin simien

Some fans are side-eyeing the director for attending during the SAG and WGA strikes — but he's not the enemy.

The Haunted Mansion’s premiere was as empty as a haunted house.

As the first major film to premiere after the official start of the SAG-AFTRA strike, Disney’s latest live-action movie (based on the beloved, popular theme park ride of the same name) was missing its stars and other industry people who would typically walk a red carpet.

In order to make it so that a red carpet could still happen, Disney hired some of its amusement park performers to put on their costumes and attend in character.

Instead of stars like LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Daniel Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Hasan Minhaj, the carpet was walked by The Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil, Maleficent, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

The one prominent person from the movie that was there was director Justin Simien — and some people online aren’t too happy about that.

Still, Simien isn’t the enemy here. He was probably contractually obligated to go to the premiere, and he spoke in support of the strike when he was on the carpet.

“It’s so surreal. It’s so sad and disappointing,” he said on the carpet. “But I’m not disappointed in this cast, I’m disappointed in the conditions that have brought about the situation.”

He also spoke on Disney CEO Bob Iger’s comments about the strike, saying that he would “love to sit down” and talk with Iger.

“Let me tell you about ‘unrealistic,’ me being a filmmaker is unrealistic. Coming from Houston, Texas, gay, Black. That’s unrealistic.” he said, referring to Iger's recent (now infamous) statement that writers' and actors' demands for equitable wages are “unrealistic.” “What made me believe I could do that is watching these movies with beautiful protagonists that have these unrealistic dreams. And to see the journey that it took them to get there.”

“So many artists believe in that dream, and contribute to these movies and these products and are here because of these products,” he continued. “I would love to talk to him about the reality we all face as artists to make the impossible happen every day. Because that's what Disney’s really good at, at making the unrealistic happen. That’s actually their magic.”

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