Hollywood actors primed to strike after studio talks ended without a deal, adding to ongoing writers’ strike

Hollywood actors primed to strike after studio talks ended without a deal, adding to ongoing writers’ strike

The union representing Hollywood actors said on Thursday that difficult negotiations with studios to avoid a major industry shutdown had ended without a deal, paving the way for a vote on the first actors’ strike in more than four decades. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), which represents 160,000 performers including A-list stars, said last-minute negotiations had failed to resolve its demands over dwindling salaries and the threat posed by artificial intelligence.

Union negotiators unanimously recommended a strike to its national committee, which was due to vote on Thursday morning on whether to take industrial action, it said in a statement. A “double strike” by actors and writers, not seen in Hollywood since the 1960s, would bring nearly all US film and television productions to a standstill.

Popular series due to return to television this year would face lengthy delays. And, if the strikes continue, future blockbuster films will also be postponed. Actors are demanding better pay and protections against the future use of AI in television and movies.

“We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to withdraw from the negotiations. This is the Union’s choice, not ours,” the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said in a statement on Thursday. Hollywood studios called in federal mediators to help resolve the impasse – a last-minute move described by SAG-AFTRA as a “cynical ploy”.

SAG-AFTRA represents A-list stars such as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Glenn Close and all members have pre-approved industrial action if a deal is not reached.

premieres and parties

A strike would immediately prevent stars from promoting some of the year’s biggest releases, right at the height of the film industry’s blockbuster season. In London, a Wednesday night premiere for the Christopher Nolan film Oppenheimer was brought forward an hour so that the cast, including Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, could attend without breaking union rules, Variety reported.

But a strike would disrupt the highly-anticipated film’s US premiere in New York on Monday, as well as the red carpet launch scheduled for this weekend at Disneyland for the new film Haunted Mansion. And Comic-Con’s massive annual pop culture gathering in San Diego next week could be stripped of its stars.

Even the Emmy Awards, the television version of the Oscars, which are due to take place on Sept. 18, are considering a postponement to November or even next year. “We hope that the guild’s ongoing negotiations will reach a fair and speedy resolution,” Television Academy President Frank Scherma said when the Emmy nominations were announced on Wednesday.

quick resolution

While the writers’ strike has already drastically reduced the number of movies and shows in production, an actors’ walkout would shut down just about everything. Some reality shows, animations and talk shows may continue. Earlier on Wednesday, Hollywood unions representing directors, backstage workers and screenwriters issued a statement of “unwavering support and solidarity” with the actors.

“While studios are collectively worth trillions of dollars, billions of viewers around the world and sky-high profits, this fight is not about actors versus studios,” he said.

Payment and AI

Like the screenwriters, who have already spent 11 weeks on the picket lines, the actors are demanding higher salaries to fight inflation and guarantees for their future livelihoods. In addition to salaries when they’re actively working, actors receive so-called “residual” payments every time a movie or show they’ve starred in is shown on network or cable — particularly useful when performers are between projects.

But today, streamers like Netflix and Disney+ don’t disclose the viewing figures for their shows and offer the same flat rate for everything on their platforms, regardless of how popular they are. Muddying the waters even more is the AI ​​issue. Both actors and writers want guarantees to regulate its future use, but studios have so far refused to budge.


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