Critics' favorite "Beasts of the Southern Wild" will be ineligible for the Screen Actors Guild Awards because it was not made under provisions of the union's contracts, guild officials said Monday.
The producers have until Oct. 25 to bring the independent hit into guild compliance to become eligible for the awards, though that likely would mean paying the actors more money.
A spokesman for Fox Searchlight, which released the film domestically, said the company would not try to bring "Beasts" in line with SAG contract rules to qualify for the awards.
"We're baffled at the fact that the producers of 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' failed to sign a SAG agreement as every other important film released this year did," said guild spokeswoman Pamela Greenwalt in a statement. "We would love for the performers in this film to compete for a SAG Award. Celebrating such performances is what we're all about."
Director Benh Zeitlin cast locals in his film set in rural Louisiana, including his two stars, first-time actors Quvenzhane Wallis as a 6-year-old wild child, and Dwight Henry as her father.
Zeitlan told The Hollywood Reporter, "Against all logic and planning, two incredible first-time actors won the lead roles in 'Beasts.' I'm positive they both have long and amazing acting careers in front of them."
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight Presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley said in a statement, "We appreciate and honor the spirit in which the film was produced and the way it was made. It's truly an original."
"Beasts" is a critical darling, winning top honors at the Sundance Film Festival, so sitting out the Jan. 27 SAG Awards will not necessarily hurt its Academy Awards prospects.