Actors Strike Ends as Studios, Union Reach Tentative Deal
Hollywood studios and the union representing some 160,000 actors reached an agreement to end a strike that’s shut down TV and film production.
The union said it negotiated a contract worth over $1 billion that includes unprecedented restrictions on the use of artificial intelligence to recreate an actor’s likeness, as well as the first-ever performance-based bonuses paid by streaming services.
SAG/AFTRA’s national board will review the deal on Nov. 10. More details will be released after that meeting.
With previously striking writers already back on the job for more than a month, the settlement with actors means production of scripted TV shows and movies can resume soon. Both sides found common ground on issues ranging from the use of artificial intelligence to payment from streaming services.
Screen Actors Guild members walked off the job in mid-July after contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers broke down.
The actors joined the Writers Guild of America, whose members went on strike in May. That marked the first time in more than 40 years that both unions were on the picket line at the same time.
The twin strikes crippled film and TV production, forcing studios to delay movie releases and networks to turn to reruns, reality TV and game shows to make up for the lack of new scripted programs.
The writers union reached a deal with the studios on Sept. 24 and let members return to their jobs a few days later. The guild’s 11,500 members approved their new contract on Oct. 9.
Both unions were striking over similar issues, including higher minimum pay, a share of revenue from streaming services and assurances they won’t be replaced by a new generation of artificial intelligence tools. The actors had sought 2% of the sales their programs generated from services such as Netflix Inc., something the studios rejected. They also demanded consent any time their image or voice is reproduced digitally using artificial intelligence.
Like the writers, the actors union benefited from direct involvement in the talks by some of the most powerful people in Hollywood. Executives including Walt Disney Co.’s Bob Iger, Netflix Inc.’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s David Zaslav and Universalizer’s Donna Langley participated in the talks with the actors.
The studios walked out of the discussions on Oct. 11 after the union presented a new proposal — that they be paid a fee based on every streaming subscriber. The media companies said the fee would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars annually on top of the terms they’d agreed to.
Talks resumed on Oct. 24, with the studios increasing the percentage increase in the minimum pay they would give actors to 7% in the first year.