Negotiations between Hollywood studios and the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union were put on hiatus yesterday as the two sides continued to fail to reach an agreement over streaming revenue, the use of artificial intelligence (known as AI) and other issues which have been at the center of the strike that has started 92 days ago in midsummer and continues to this day.
The breakdown in talks interrupted attempts to end the dispute that has shut down most U.S.-based film and television production, cost the economy of California billions of dollars, and left thousands of studio hands and actors without a paycheck.
SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July. The union resumed negotiations with studios last week after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) ended its work stoppage.
The WGA deal had raised hopes for a quick resolution with actors until the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), late on Wednesday, said talks were suspended once it reviewed the most recent union proposal.
“After meaningful conversations, it is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction,” said the AMPTP, which represents Netflix, Walt Disney and other media companies.
SAG-AFTRA, in a letter to members issued early Thursday, said it had negotiated “in good faith” with studios “despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began.”
“It is with profound disappointment that we report the industry CEOs have walked away from the bargaining table after refusing to counter our latest offer,” union negotiators said.
One issue of contention is a SAG-AFTRA demand for a share of streaming revenue delivered as a bonus to cast members. The AMPTP said the proposal “would cost more than $800 million per year, which would create an untenable economic burden.”
“We feel the pain these companies have inflicted on our members, our strike captains, IATSE, Teamsters and Basic Crafts union members, and everyone in this industry,” SAG-AFTRA said in the early hours of Thursday after the studios earlier slammed them for costly demands and abandoning “productive negotiations” after less than two weeks of renewed negotiations.
The union also said studios “refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI,” while the AMPTP said it had promised to obtain actors’ consent before using any digital replicas of their likenesses.
“These companies refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI, they refuse to increase your wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue YOUR work generates for them.
“We have made big, meaningful counters on our end, including completely transforming our revenue share proposal, which would cost the companies less than 57¢ per subscriber each year. They have rejected our proposals and refused to counter.”
Sources: Deadline, Reuters and other news agencies.