It’s a historic day in Hollywood, as the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has reached a deal with the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP), putting an end to a historic strike of 118 days, which has become the longest actors stopped working.
The strike began on July 14, 2023, a little more than a month after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike began on May 2. Both parties were battling against studios to earn fair salaries and establish some regulations against the use of Artificial Intelligence, which was one of the topics of main concern.
The WGA finally reached an agreement on September 27 after 148 days of striking and was able to secure, not only fair payments for writers but security against the intervention of AI on scripts. After the strike ended, many people in the industry were hopeful that SAG-AFTRA would also reach an agreement, as they met with studios a week after WGA’s win. However, the deal didn’t happen and actors continued striking for one more month.
At the beginning of November, the Negotiating Committee started meeting with the AMPTP, which reportedly gave its “Last, best, and Final Offer”. After negotiating over the past weekend, SAG-AFTRA took a few days to review the offer. While they were able to reach an agreement towards payment, there was still no ground in common surrounding AI.
Finally, on November 8, it was revealed that both parties had reached a tentative agreement, and it was revealed that SAG-AFTRA’s strike was suspended as of November 9 at 12:01 am, putting an end to the longest actor’s strike in the history of the union.
“In a contract valued at over one billion dollars, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope that includes ‘above-pattern’ minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishes a streaming participation bonus. Out Pension & Health caps have been substantially raised, which will bring much needed value to our plans. In addition, the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities” expressed SAG-AFTRA via Twitter.
Now that the strike is over, actors can go back to their duties and promote their work. This is incredible news, not only for performers but for the whole industry.
Back when the WGA was on strike, almost every production from big studios had to shut down, and when actors joined the strike as well, movies in pre-production and filming had to cease all activities. Since then, only a few movies have been granted an interim agreement to continue working or promoting, such as Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes and A24’s The Iron Claw, among others.
Now, many productions are set to resume their work. For example, Ridley Scott’s awaited Gladiator Sequel, starring Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington, is set to resume shooting very soon. So far, the director has around 90-minute footage, but there’s still much work to be done. Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice 2, was only two days away from finishing shooting, so it’s very likely that production will be completed soon. In fact, not only films can resume filming, but now many casting announcements can be made, as one of the strike’s rules prohibited actors from accepting new jobs and acting gigs. It is rumoured that the Fantastic Four casting, one of Marvel’s most awaited films, will announce its leading actors imminently.
Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA’s strikes had a major impact on Hollywood, and the big studios, such as Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Disney, Netflix and more, lost millions and millions of dollars. Many films, which were set to release in the second half of 2023, had to be postponed to early 2024, like the long-awaited Dune: Part Two, The Bikeriders and Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers.
For now, both parties have reached agreements and contracts for three years. The industry has been battling several situations that have impacted Hollywood’s economy, first with COVID-19, which caused a major impact on people’s cinema habits, and now with the strikes. Now, the industry can start to heal while looking into the future. Let’s just hope that studios can keep respecting and granting actors, writers and all its workers the rights they deserve.
Celebrations are expected to be held in the upcoming days all across the United States. SAG-AFTRA has issued a special message to all members of the union, emphasizing the solidarity and standing that everyone proved. Some of Hollywood’s A-list actors, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Matt Damon and Nicole Kidman, have made several millionaire donations to help struggling actors. Kevin E. West, member of the Negotiating Committee, expressed that there were “tears of exhilaration and joy” and that they were able to achieve the complicated task of earning a unanimous vote. “That’s a difficult thing to accomplish” said West outside the union’s headquarters.
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