After nearly four months of striking, Hollywood actors have finally reached a tentative agreement with the studios and streaming companies that will allow them to return to work. The strike, which began on July 14, 2023, was the longest and most disruptive in the history of the entertainment industry, affecting thousands of productions, workers, and fans.
The actors, represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), were demanding better pay, residuals, and working conditions in the era of streaming and artificial intelligence. They argued that the studios and streamers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), were exploiting their work and not sharing the profits from the booming digital platforms.
The strike had a significant impact on the industry, as it halted the filming and promotion of movies and TV shows, delayed the release of major blockbusters, and forced the cancellation or postponement of several awards shows, such as the Emmys and the Oscars. The strike also put many crew members, such as writers, directors, cinematographers, and editors, out of work or on reduced pay, as they were unable to complete their projects without the actors.
The negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP were tense and difficult, as both sides accused each other of being unreasonable and greedy. The talks broke down several times, and the actors staged rallies and protests across the country, garnering support from other unions, celebrities, and politicians. The studios and streamers, meanwhile, tried to minimize the impact of the strike by relying on existing content, animation, and non-union actors.
The breakthrough came on November 8, 2023, when the two parties announced that they had reached a tentative deal that would end the strike at 12:01 a.m. on November 9, 2023. The deal, which still needs to be ratified by the SAG-AFTRA members, includes the following terms:
- A 3% increase in minimum wages and a 1% increase in pension and health contributions.
- A new formula for streaming residuals that will pay actors based on the number of subscribers and the duration of the service, rather than the number of views and the budget of the production.
- A limit on the use of artificial intelligence and deepfake technology, requiring the consent of the actors and the payment of additional fees for the use of their likeness, voice, or performance.
- A reduction in the turnaround time between workdays from 12 hours to 10 hours, and an increase in the rest periods from 9 hours to 10 hours.
- A commitment to improve the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the industry, and to address the issues of harassment, discrimination, and safety on the sets.
SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher hailed the deal as a historic victory for the actors and the industry, saying, “We are proud of what we have achieved together. This is a fair and forward-looking contract that recognizes the value and contributions of our members in the digital age. We thank our members for their solidarity and support, and we look forward to getting back to work and entertaining the world.”
AMPTP president Carol Lombardini also expressed her satisfaction with the deal, saying, “We are pleased that we have reached a tentative agreement that will end the strike and restore the normal operations of the industry. We appreciate the professionalism and patience of the SAG-AFTRA negotiators, and we respect the rights and interests of the actors. We hope that this deal will pave the way for a more collaborative and productive relationship in the future.”
The end of the strike is expected to bring relief and excitement to the industry and the fans, as the actors will resume their work and the productions will resume their schedules. However, some experts warn that the industry will still face some challenges and uncertainties, such as the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition from the global market, and the changes in consumer behavior and preferences.
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