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Hollywood studios, actors tentatively agree to new contract

Hollywood studios, actors tentatively agree to new contract
Writers Guild of America members and supporters on a picket line outside Paramount Studios in the Hollywood neighbourhood of Los Angeles, California, US, on 3 May 2023.

Hollywood studios and the union representing some 160,000 actors have reached an agreement to end a strike that’s shut down TV and film production.

The SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Committee approved the tentative deal in a unanimous vote, according to a statement Wednesday from the union. The 118-day strike will end at noon on Thursday.

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 10 November. 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 programmes.

The writers union reached a deal with the studios on 24 September and let members return to their jobs a few days later. The guild’s 11,500 members approved their new contract on 9 October.

Read more: Why Hollywood Actors and Writers Went on Strike

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, 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’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav and Universalizer’s Donna Langley participated in the talks with the actors.

The studios walked out of the discussions on 11 October 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 24 October with the studios increasing the percentage increase in the minimum pay they would give actors to 7% in the first year.


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