Although the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a new agreement with directors on Sunday, Hollywood writers are in their sixth week of striking, and actors may now join them.
On Monday, members of the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike if negotiations with AMPTP — which don’t even begin until Wednesday — do not result in an agreement by June 30.
vote, taken to provide the union with additional leverage in the negotiations, was 98% in favor. SAG-AFTRA has about 160,000 members.
“This strike authorization means we enter our negotiations from a position of strength, so that we can deliver the deal our members want and deserve,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, said in a statement.
AMPTP released a statement saying it is “approaching these negotiations with the goal of achieving a new agreement that is beneficial to SAG-AFTRA members and the industry overall.”
Media companies and studios prepared for the writers' strike by stockpiling content as much as possible, as well as shifting to unscripted content formats, but some impacts are already being felt. Still, the strike has already shut down the final season of Netflix's "Stranger Things" and an HBO prequel to "Game of Thrones," and paused production of Disney's "Thunderbolts" and "Blade," and an actors' strike would "trigger a broader shutdown across Hollywood, while ramping up pressure on companies that need to support their streaming services and TV programming schedules," notes Seeking Alpha.
The studios and streamers are not in a hurry to settle because the strike could "eventually allow them to shed unprofitable long-term deals," but "that's also a dangerous long-term game," wrote SA analyst The Entertainment Oracle.
Like the writers — who have been joined in their picketing by some SAG-AFTRA members — actors contend that the financial sustainability of their careers has been damaged by the lower residuals they receive as streaming supplants traditional broadcasting. Both groups are also seeking guardrails around how AI can be used, to try to limit the use of AI to replace writers and actors and ensure that they are compensated for use of their work, images and voices.
The actors also want improved health and pension plans, and limitations on studios’ growing practice of shifting the cost of auditions onto actors by pressuring them into doing “self-taped” auditions.
The actors’ union’s last strike was in 2000.
The writers’ strike began May 2. No new talks with the studios are currently scheduled.
AMPTP did strike a deal earlier this week with The Directors Guild of America (DGA), which will now ask its 19,000 members to approve the three-year agreement.
The agreement includes limitations on use of AI as it affects directors, as well as increases in wages and more more favorable residuals earnings terms.