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Hollywood Studios Walk Away From Negotiations With SAG-AFTRA

The actors' union has accused AMPTP of engaging in "bully tactics" and refusing to counter their latest offer.
  • SAG-AFTRA pickets on the WB lot (Photo: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)
    SAG-AFTRA pickets on the WB lot (Photo: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

    Following consecutive weeks of meetings, talks between SAG-AFTRA and the Hollywood studios have been suspended after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) walked away from the bargaining table late Wednesday.

    SAG-AFTRA has accused the AMPTP of engaging in "bully tactics" and refusing to counter their latest offer, which the bargaining committee says included "big, meaningful" concessions, "including completely transforming our revenue share proposal, which would cost the companies less than 57¢ per subscriber each year."

    "We have negotiated with them in good faith, despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began," the actors' union said in a statement released overnight. "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."

    As the statement suggests, the use of artificial intelligence and revenue sharing remains a major sticking point between the two sides. According to Variety, SAG-AFTRA is seeking a share of streaming revenue for all projects covered by the union (whether original series and films or licensed content), a proposal the AMPTP claims "would cost more than $800 million per year" and "create an untenable economic burden." However, SAG-AFTRA's statement says the studios have exaggerated that figure by 60% and "intentionally misrepresented" other deal points, as well.

    "They have done the same with A.I., claiming to protect performer consent, but continuing to demand 'consent' on the first day of employment for use of a performer's digital replica for an entire cinematic universe (or any franchise project)," SAG-AFTRA said of the AMPTP.

    For their part, the AMPTP said that "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." The statement goes on to list several of their offers, including "a first-of-its-kind success-based residual for High-Budget SVOD productions," but it does not provide any details about the proposed residual structure.

    Walking away from negotiations has been a tactic used by the AMPTP in the past. The studios did the same thing in August, when talks with the Writers Guild of America reached an impasse, before returning to the bargaining table one month later with top executives including Disney's Bob Iger and Netflix's Ted Sarandos in tow. Those executives have also been in the room for SAG-AFTRA negotiations since last week, which was believed to be a sign of progress — until Wednesday, when talks unexpectedly broke down.

    The SAG-AFTRA strike is now in its 90th day. With no indication as to when talks will resume, it will likely last longer than the 1980 actors' strike, which concluded after 95 days.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: SAG-AFTRA, AMPTP, TV Actors' Strike