Hollywood is moving one step closer to getting back to work.
SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents tens of thousands of movie and television actors who have been on strike since July, will resume negotiations with the major entertainment studios on Monday. Several studio executives will attend.
The joint announcement on Wednesday was made one day after the Writers Guild of America’s leadership voted to end its 148-day strike against the studios. The tentative contract now goes to the union’s membership for ratification, and writers began returning to work on Wednesday.
The flurry of movement is a welcome reprieve for an industry that has been hobbled for months by the dual strikes. (It was the first time the actors and the writers were both on strike since 1960.) TV and movie production has essentially been shut down, and fall prime-time and film release schedules have been upended.
But while late-night shows like “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and “The Daily Show” have announced that they will soon return, no scripted television or film projects can begin production again without a resolution to the actors’ strike. If the strikes go on much longer, the 2024 summer moviegoing season will also be in jeopardy.
The writers went on strike in May. On July 14, SAG-AFTRA, which represents more than 150,000 performers, joined them. There have been no talks between the actors’ union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of the studios, for 76 days.
The tentative contract for the writers could offer a blueprint for the actors. Like the writers, the actors have been seeking guardrails around artificial intelligence and increased residuals (a type of royalty) for movies and television shows that appear on streaming services.
The writers’ tentative contract guarantees that artificial intelligence technology will not encroach on writers’ credits and compensation. And studios cannot use A.I. tools to rewrite original material. Studios will be able, however, to use film and TV scripts that they already own to refine A.I. tools and experiment.
Actors have been concerned about how A.I. could be used to create digital replicas of their likenesses without payment or approval.
The writers’ contract also ensures, for the first time, a bonus from streaming services based on a percentage of active subscribers watching the shows. The actors have asked for a subscriber revenue-sharing agreement, a nonstarter for the studios.
The actors proposed an 11 percent raise in the first year of a new contract. The studios last offered a 5 percent raise.