In the ongoing saga of the actors’ strike that has kept Hollywood on its toes for the past 114 days, SAG-AFTRA is carefully reviewing the latest proposal put forth by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The studios have presented this offer as their “last, best, and final” attempt to reach an agreement, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
The SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee, which is spearheading the union’s negotiations, received the AMPTP’s latest proposal with cautious optimism. The offer came after a meeting between SAG-AFTRA leaders and an expanded group of studio CEOs via Zoom, lasting approximately an hour. Studio heavyweights such as Netflix, Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Amazon, Sony, Warner Bros Discovery, and more participated in this crucial discussion.
Studio insiders have described the proposal as a “full package, forward-looking and fair,” which includes some groundbreaking features, such as robust artificial intelligence (AI) protections. “CEOs told them this was a historic package for the guild, including strong AI protections,” said an executive familiar with the negotiations.
One of the most significant elements of the offer is the promise of the highest wage increase in 40 years, coupled with a 100% increase in performance compensation bonuses for high-budget streaming series and movies. The inclusion of “full” AI protections addresses a key concern for SAG-AFTRA, as it aligns with their demands.
Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos emphasized the studios’ commitment to reaching an agreement, stating, “We didn’t just come toward you, we came all the way to you.” While progress has been made, the parties remain cautious about assessing how close they are to finalizing a new three-year contract.
The use of the term “cautious optimism” has become a prevailing sentiment on both sides, signifying that negotiations have indeed moved forward, but there is still work to be done.
Notably, this meeting witnessed a larger contingent of studio CEOs participating in the discussions than ever before during SAG-AFTRA negotiations. The presence of top industry figures, including NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav, Disney’s Bob Iger, and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, demonstrates the urgency the studios attach to resuming global TV and film production.
The strikes initiated by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in May and followed by SAG-AFTRA in July have taken a substantial toll on California’s entertainment industry. The latest economic estimates indicate that the state has suffered a $6.5 billion loss, accompanied by the loss of over 45,000 jobs in the industry.
On the studio side, the first half of the fall TV season has seen a notable decline in scripted shows and significant disruptions to the theatrical release schedule. The ongoing strike is likely to result in more movie release delays in the coming years. This weekend, the box office earnings reached a mere $58 million, marking the third-lowest frame of the year.
Despite the significant challenges faced by both SAG-AFTRA and the studios, the industry is eagerly awaiting news on the outcome of these negotiations. As of now, neither SAG-AFTRA nor the AMPTP has officially commented on the status of the talks. However, as developments unfold, the industry will be keeping a close eye on the progress towards resolving this protracted dispute.