Hollywood Strike | Talks break off between actors and studios

Hollywood Strike | Talks break off between actors and studios

A picketer carries a sign on the picket line outside Netflix on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, in Los Angeles.
| Photo Credit: Chris Pizzello

Talks have broken off between Hollywood actors and studios, killing any hopes that the strike by performers was coming to an end after nearly three months, as the writers’ strike recently did.

The studios announced that they had suspended contract negotiations late Wednesday night, saying the gap between the two sides was too great to make continuing worth it.

On October 2, for the first time since the strike began July 14, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists resumed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, streaming services and production companies in strike talks.

Explained | Why are Hollywood’s actors and writers on strike at the same after decades?

When negotiations resumed with writers last month, their strike ended five days later, but similar progress was not made with the actors union. The studios walked away from talks after seeing the actors’ most recent proposal on Wednesday.

“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,” the AMPTP said in a statement. The SAG-AFTRA proposal would cost companies an additional $800 million a year and create “an untenable economic burden,” the statement said.

In a letter to members sent early Thursday, SAG AFTRA said that figure was overestimated by 60%. The union said its negotiators were “profoundly disappointed” the studios had broken off talks.

“We have negotiated with them in good faith,” the letter read, “despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began.”

Actors have been on strike over issues including increases in pay for streaming programming and control of the use of their images generated by artificial intelligence.

The AMPTP insisted its offers had been as generous as the deals that ended the writers’ strike and brought a new contract to the directors guild earlier this year.

From the start, the actors’ talks had nothing like the momentum that spurred marathon night-and-weekend sessions in the writers’ strike and ended that work stoppage. Actors and studios had taken several days off after resuming, and there were no reports of meaningful progress despite direct involvement from the heads of studios including Disney and Netflix as there had been in the writers strike.

Members of the Writers Guild of America voted almost unanimously to ratify their new contract on Monday. Their leaders touted their deal as achieving most of what they had sought when they went on strike nearly five months earlier. They declared their strike over, and sent writers back to work, on September 26. Late-night talk shows returned to the air within a week, and other shows including Saturday Night Live will soon follow.

But with no actors, production on scripted shows and movies will stay on pause indefinitely.