Event Cinema workers are planning strike action during the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story tonight - though Union members say it's a boycott of low wages rather than the movie itself.

The midnight exodus follows staff negotiations bidding for living wages for senior staff, which Unite Union members say "turned to custard".

The union wanted to ensure cinema attendants' wages increased in line with the minimum wage.

Strike organiser Hannah Shelton Agar had put a nationwide call-out for members to take part in the strike.


At least 50 people were taking part, she said, of the estimated 200 Event Cinema employees nationwide.

"We're hoping for around 20 workers, all of the workers who are meant to be working for that midnight screening at Queen St, to take part."

Union delegates in other regions were managing the participation of members at their own branches.

Agar said the strike was not an attack on Star Wars or fans of the movies - Agar said there were "plenty of Star Wars fans" in the union.

Rather, it was about driving public attention towards industry issues.

"Event Cinemas workers in the industry have seen their margins for skill and service undermined over many years. It's time that stopped," she said.

Negotiations had gone well as dialogue between the two parties was constructive but that had "turned to custard", Agar said.

The union wanted a minimum of $23 an hour for staff in the manage position, the current average wage for the role was $20 to 22.

She said it didn't make sense the company could not front wage increases when there was venues continually being sold out, and large volumes of popcorn combos was being sold over the country.

Event Cinemas operates in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, run by Australian parent company Event Hospitality and Entertainment.

The company is the largest cinema company in New Zealand.

A spokeswoman for the company said Events Cinemas received advice of proposed strike action by union members at all of their cinemas, excluding Albany, from 10 pm until 3am tomorrow.

"We have also been advised of a partial strike at our Albany site where union members will refuse to sell food and beverage between the hours of 10.30pm and 1am.

"We have advised Unite that we believe the strike action is unlawful," the spokeswoman said.

All movies would screen as scheduled and the struke would not affect customers attending the midnight screenings of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

"Event has been in negotiations with Unite since last month. We have made a proposal for an overall wage increase of 4 per cent, which we believe is fair.

"This is the highest wage increase that we have ever offered and we understand that the average annual wage increase across all industries last year was 1.9 per cent," the spokeswoman said.

Cinema attendant Asina Crawford said she felt like a "tool" rather than a valued employee when she goes to work.

"We are being exploited by working for less than we are worth and giving more to the company than we receive."

Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca.

According to the official Star Wars website it will "explore the duo's adventures before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, including their early encounters with that other card-playing rogue from a galaxy far, far away, Lando Calrissian".