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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Actors and studios reach deal, ending Hollywood’s long strike

The exact terms of the three-year deal have not been disclosed.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Entertainment studios and the Screen Actors Guild, which represents actors who appear in movies and television shows, have a tentative deal for a new contract, ending a 118-day strike, the longest in the union's history.

In a statement posted to the social media platform X, the guild, SAG-AFTRA, said the contract was valued at "over one billion dollars."

"We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers," the statement read. "Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work."

In their own statement, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, said, “Today’s tentative agreement represents a new paradigm. It 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."

The exact terms of the three-year deal have not yet been disclosed, but the months-long dispute largely centered on two issues: money and artificial intelligence. The new deal has been reported by Variety and other outlets to include a 7% minimum pay increase for all actors, 2% above the recent increases handed to the writers and directors.

As for artificial intelligence, the union, which represents 160,000 actors and performers, wanted rules in place that require an actor's consent, as well as a minimum fee, for having his or her likeness digitally recreated on screen using AI technology. The studios wanted only consent, and they wanted it to cover multiple movies within the same franchise.

Production in Hollywood ground to a halt in May, kicking off what many took to calling LA's "hot labor summer" (though in truth the summer was not that hot, compared to much of the country), when the screenwriters went on strike. They were joined two months later by the actors — the first time in more than 60 years that both unions were on strike together. The screenwriters' strike was resolved in September.

The strike will formally end at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday morning. The union's negotiating committee approved the deal by a unanimous vote, but it will need to be approved on Friday by the SAG-AFTRA national board, and then by the entire membership. But actors are allowed to return to work on Thursday.

The deal comes as a relief to many employees in the entertainment industry, as well as ancillary businesses like caterers and dry cleaners. But it will also please the studios, who were worried about the next slate of television shows and the 2024 summer movie season. Movies like Deadpool 3 and Gladiator 2 had been put on pause, halfway through production. Other movies, like Dune: Part Two, had their releases delayed, in order to wait for actors to be available to promote their movies — a key part of the job for stars.

The studios had presented what they called their “last, best and final offer” to the union on Friday. A deal was expected over the weekend, but on Monday, the union said that the two sides were still divided on “several key items,” including residuals from streaming platforms.

According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, the long summer strike cost the state more than $5 billion.

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Categories / Entertainment

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