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Hollywood Actors End Nearly 4-Month Strike as Historic Work Stoppage Concludes

by Rahil M
0 comment

Sag-Aftra initiated the strike in July, with prominent actors of Hollywood joining picket lines from Los Angeles to New York, offering their support.

Hollywood actors are set to conclude their nearly four-month strike, as announced by the Sag-Aftra union on Wednesday, marking the end of a historic work stoppage that had brought the film and television industry to a standstill for months.

The striking parties, Sag-Aftra, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday. This milestone comes roughly a month after the writers signed a new contract. The breakthrough followed resumed talks last week, rekindled after negotiations had stalled in early October.

The union expressed the magnitude of their achievement, declaring, “In a contract valued at over $1 billion, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope.” Among the notable wins mentioned by the union were larger-than-expected increases in minimum compensation, a first-time “streaming participation bonus,” and “unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI.”

Hollywood producers, too, hailed the tentative deal as a harbinger of a new era in the industry. The AMPTP announced, “The contract gives Sag-Aftra the biggest contract-on-contract gains in the history of the union, including the largest increase in minimum wages in the last forty years; a brand-new residual for streaming programs; extensive consent and compensation protections in the use of artificial intelligence; and sizable contract increases on items across the board.”

According to the union’s statement, the new contract delivered what the actors on strike had deemed essential – pay increases and protections that make it possible for “Sag-Aftra members from every category to build sustainable careers.” They emphasized that this progress would benefit not only current performers but also those in the future.

The 118-day strike, which had a profound impact on Hollywood and the entertainment industry, will be “officially suspended” at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, and all picket locations will close.

The negotiators reached a preliminary deal on a new contract with the AMPTP, which represents major media companies, including Walt Disney and Netflix. This breakthrough clears the way for Hollywood to ramp up production fully for the first time since May, once union members vote to ratify the deal in the coming weeks.

The strike was marked by the union’s pursuit of increased base pay for residuals and safeguards around the use of artificial intelligence in film and television, concerns that writers had also fought for in their contract.

Sag-Aftra initiated the strike in July, with prominent actors of Hollywood joining picket lines from Los Angeles to New York, offering their support. Figures like George Clooney regarded it as “an inflection point in our industry,” emphasizing the necessity for change for the “industry to survive.”

The resolution of the writers’ strike in September left union leaders hopeful, and negotiations with the studios resumed in early October for the first time since the strike commenced. The studios had initially walked away from negotiations, citing the actors’ demands on AI and streaming residuals as unreasonable, but they returned to the negotiating table.

While the complete details of the agreement were not immediately disclosed, local news outlets reported that the actors secured significant victories, including compensation for shows appearing on streaming platforms, health insurance benefits, and new regulations governing the use of AI technology to replicate actors’ images and likenesses.

The union specified that the contract also included “compensation increases for background performers and critical contrast provisions protecting diverse communities.”

Details of the agreement will be released to the public after a meeting on Friday, during which board members will review the contract.

In the final stages of negotiations over the weekend, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos conveyed to union leadership, “We didn’t just come toward you; we came all the way to you,” as reported by Deadline.

The deals secured by the actors’ and writers’ unions this fall represent a significant concession by Hollywood’s major companies, as highlighted by The New York Times, marking a stark reversal for studio executives who had anticipated a relatively compliant stance from the unions.

In its statement, the AMPTP expressed its satisfaction with reaching a tentative agreement and its anticipation of the industry’s resumption of work in creating great stories.

The strike, which caused Hollywood film and TV productions to grind to a halt, adversely affected the awards season and took a financial and psychological toll on working actors, had placed mounting pressure on the parties to reach a resolution.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass conveyed her gratitude upon the announcement of the deal, as the strike had affected millions in Los Angeles and throughout the country. While the impact on those on the picket lines had been severe, Bass pointed out that there had been ripple effects throughout the entire city.

Viewers may continue to feel the strike’s effects, such as delayed release dates and prolonged waits for new show seasons, for months or even years.

With a deal reached, actors can promptly return to movie sets where productions were paused, including movies like Deadpool 3, Gladiator 2, and Wicked. Other productions will resume shooting once returning writers complete their scripts.

The conclusion of the strike will also liberate actors to return to red carpets, talk shows and podcasts as Hollywood’s awards season approaches. The only major awards show directly affected by the strike was the Emmys, which was rescheduled from September to January. Now the usual fall Oscar campaigns will kick into gear.

The announcement of the strike’s conclusion came hours after Disney CEO Robert Iger and Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav released their latest earnings statements. Both executives expressed for a swift resolution of the strike.

Disney’s shares saw an increase based on its report, which revealed that its net income had surged by 63% to $264 million in the quarter ending on September 30, up from $162 million a year earlier. On an earnings call before the deal’s announcement, Zaslav stated that the studio’s last offer to Sag-Aftra “met virtually all of the union’s goals and includes the highest wage increase in 40 years.”

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