After several productive days at the negotiating table, Hollywood studios are increasingly optimistic that they are moving closer to an agreement to end the 108-day actors’ strike, according to three people briefed on the matter.
These people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the work situation, warned Sunday that some issues with the actors remain unresolved, including safeguards surrounding the use of artificial intelligence technology to create digital replicas of their likenesses without pay or permission. But other knots had begun to unravel, the people said.
For example, SAG-AFTRA, as the actors’ union is called, had called for an 11 percent increase in the minimum wage in the first year of the contract. The studios had insisted that they could offer no more than 5 percent, the same amount that had recently been granted (and agreed upon) by the writers’ and directors’ unions. However, early last week, the studios increased their offer to 7 percent. By Friday, SAG-AFTRA had reduced its demand to 9 percent.
SAG-AFTRA did not respond to requests for comment. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of major entertainment companies, declined to comment.
In an email to SAG-AFTRA members Friday evening, the union’s bargaining committee said, “We have had a full and productive day.” On Saturday, the union sent out a routine reminder of pickets planned for the coming week, including one for Wednesday at Walt Disney Studios. The sides continued negotiating on Sunday.
Last week, in conversations with filmmakers, agents, reporters and actors themselves, studio executives revealed that a deal must be completed (or almost) by the end of this week, otherwise it would likely remain dark for another two months.
In other words, unless talks accelerate, January could be the earliest cast (and crew) see their paychecks.
Brinkmanship? Naturally. It is a standard part of every strike. However, the companies said they were merely referencing the calendar. It will take time to reassemble the creative teams, a process made more difficult by the upcoming holidays. Pre-production (before anyone gathers on set) for new shows can take up to 12 weeks, and for films it can take around 16 weeks. Allow time for treaty ratification by SAG-AFTRA members.
More than 4,000 mostly working actors responded with an open letter to their union on Thursday, saying: “We have not come all this way to give in.” They added: “We cannot and will not accept a contract that compromises the vital and existential “Ignores problems that we all need to solve.”
At the same time, some stars have put pressure on union leaders to approach negotiations with greater urgency. Unemployed crew members are also increasingly frustrated by Hollywood’s closure. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents 170,000 crew members in North America, estimates that its West Coast members alone have lost more than $1.4 billion in wages.
Companies, in turn, are under pressure to save their spring television and film schedules. On Friday, Disney postponed a live-action version of “Snow White” that had been scheduled for March 26 because it would be impossible to complete on time. Earlier this week, Paramount postponed Tom Cruise’s next “Mission: Impossible” film, along with “A Quiet Place: Day One” starring Lupita Nyong’o.
The entertainment industry has been at a standstill for months as writers who left in May and actors who joined in July go on strike. The writers’ strike was resolved last month, raising hopes of an early resolution between the studios and the actors’ union. Instead, the process was slow.
Talks between the sides resumed on Tuesday after collapsing earlier this month over a union proposal for a per-subscriber fee on streaming services, which Netflix co-chief Ted Sarandos publicly called a “tax” and “one that went too far.” Bridge” dismissed. ” SAG-AFTRA accused studio executives of “bullying tactics.”
It is unclear how the streaming problem could be solved. But there is real hope in Hollywood that people will soon be able to get back to work.
“At this time we do not have any specific information from any studio,” Michael Akins, an official with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees in Georgia, wrote to members Friday. “But it is clear that the industry shutdown is in its final days.”
John Koblin And Nicole Sperling contributed to the reporting.