SAG-AFTRA reach an initial agreement with studios to end the four-month walkout
Published: 10 November 2023
Actors will be overjoyed to hear the strike is over as of 9 November 2023, following a provisional deal being agreed between Hollywood studios and the Screen Actors Guild.
Talks between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers (AMPTP) appear to have reached a conclusion after a vote. It comes after 118 days of protests and pickets, with actors arguing for better pay and laws controlling the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the industry.
The person at the forefront of the negotiations, SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, said there were, “Definitely some tears, a lot of big smiles, a lot of hugs,” when the agreement was reached.
This comes less than a month after the Writers’ Guild strike ended on Wednesday 27 September 2023. Many TV shows such as season five of Stranger Things and Billions had to halt production, while major films like Avatar 3 and Fantastic Four have been delayed by a year.
What Has Been Agreed?
The new three-year contract that has been secured is said to be worth over $1 billion. Exact details have not yet been released, but we know the following:
Studios will need to obtain consent from actors for using their AI likeness, and actors will be compensated if their image is recreated by AI in the future.
Minimum Wage Increase
The union was initially asking for an 11% increase in the first year, and it has now settled on a number that is above 5%. The exact number has yet to be revealed.
Share of Streaming Revenue
Securing a share of streaming revenue was a top priority for the union. They were not successful at securing 2% of a streamer’s revenue (later dropped to 1%, which would have been worth $500 million a year), but they have agreed on a streaming bonus arrangement which is modelled on the terms secured by the Writers Guild.
Actors on ‘successful’ streaming shows (‘successful’ meaning the show has attracted 20% of a company’s subscribers within 90 days) will receive 100% of their existing residual as a bonus. The actor will receive a portion of this money, and the rest will go to a fund that’s jointly administered by the union and employers to be distributed to actors on a range of streaming shows that aren’t popular or successful.
What Happens Next?
The end of the strike will be welcome news in the UK, with many actors and film industry workers reporting their jobs being affected or a loss of work entirely during the strikes. A recent report by Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU) highlighted the devastating impact of the strikes on UK crew. A survey of 4,000 freelance actors found that 80% had their employment directly affected by the SAG-AFTRA strike, with three-quarters unemployed during the period.
In light of the deal, the industry can start to recover, with halted productions such as Deadpool 3, Venom 3, Yellowjackets and The White Lotus now able to resume. Some large productions, such as Dune: Part Two and Disney’s Snow White, have already pushed their release dates back to 2024 and 2025.
SAG-AFTRA leadership will meet on Friday 10 November 2023 to approve the deal, and then the union’s 160,000 members will have several weeks to vote to ratify it.