On Wednesday evening, the Screen Actor’s Guild’s theatrical/streaming/television contract expired without a successor agreement following more than a month of negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) — the entity that represents major studios and streamers, including Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. Discovery.

According to SAG, who represent 160,000 television and movie actors, the studios have been unwilling to offer a fair deal on the key issues that are essential to SAG-AFTRA members, which has resulted in SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee voting unanimously to recommend to the National Board of Actors that they go on a strike, who will on Thursday morning on whether to strike.   The contract was originally set to expire at the end of June, but was given an extension due to the July 4th holiday.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a statement:

“SAG-AFTRA negotiated in good faith and was eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry. The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us. Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal. We have no choice but to move forward in unity, and on behalf of our membership, with a strike recommendation to our National Board. The board will discuss the issue this morning and will make its decision.”

National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said:

“The studios and streamers have implemented massive unilateral changes in our industry’s business model, while at the same time insisting on keeping our contracts frozen in amber. That’s not how you treat a valued, respected partner and essential contributor. Their refusal to meaningfully engage with our key proposals and the fundamental disrespect shown to our members is what has brought us to this point. The studios and streamers have underestimated our members’ resolve, as they are about to fully discover.”

The union will hold a press conference on Thursday, 13th July 2023, at 12 noon PT at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles, following the conclusion of the National Board vote.

The studios have also released a joint statement:

“We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from negotiations. This is the Union’s choice, not ours. In doing so, it has dismissed our offer of historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses, and more. Rather than continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.”

Should the actors decide to go on strike, this will mean that filming on all films and shows for studios, including Disney, will stop in the United States, and it will also impact international productions that have SAG actors involved in their projects.

Back in May, the Writer’s Guild Of America also voted to go on strike, which has resulted in production on many shows and films being delayed.  With the actors and writers on strike, this marks the first industrywide shutdown in 63 years.    Recently, the directors agreed to a new contract with the studios.

The Studios are fighting the unions on many different issues, but the biggest issue is about residuals from streaming services like Disney+ and Hulu, as both actors and writers want more money from the studios, since they make much less from streaming platforms compared to TV syndication or DVD releases, which have been falling since streaming has become more popular.  Other issues include the rise of artificial intelligence.

Hollywood has been preparing for the impending strikes, stockpiling as many films and shows as possible, and focusing on creating unscripted and reality content for the Fall season.    Many studios are also using the strikes to reduce costs over the summer, to make their streaming platforms more profitable.

We will know later today if the SAG-AFTRA board plans to go on strike, but it’s very likely this is going to be happening.

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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