Leaders of Hollywood’s actors union have made the decision to go on strike, joining screenwriters in a joint effort to protest against the breakdown in contract negotiations with studios and streaming services. The move has effectively shut down production across the entertainment industry.
The executive director of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, announced the work stoppage at a news conference following the expiration of their contract and the breakdown of talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. This is the first strike for actors in film and television since 1980 and marks the first time in six decades that two major Hollywood unions have gone on strike simultaneously.
The looming strike has already had an impact on the industry. The premiere of Christopher Nolan’s film “Oppenheimer” in London was rescheduled to allow the cast to walk the red carpet prior to the announcement of the strike. Additionally, the upcoming 75th Emmy Awards, whose nominations were recently revealed, are now overshadowed by the labor dispute.
Bob Iger, the chief of Disney, expressed concerns about the potential consequences of an actors strike, stating that it would have a “very damaging effect on the whole industry.” He further emphasized that the current disruptions in the industry make this an especially challenging time for such actions.
Negotiations between the unions and employers had been extended for nearly two weeks in an attempt to find a resolution. However, this only heightened the tension between the two groups. Prior to the talks, a significant majority of the 65,000 actors who cast their votes expressed their support for a strike, echoing the actions taken by the Writers Guild of America when their deal expired earlier this year.
Hollywood Actors Ready to Strike Over Pay Disputes
More than 1,000 members of the union, including renowned actors Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bob Odenkirk, have shown their support for a potential strike in late June. The actors have signed a letter to express their concerns to industry leaders.
The negotiations revolve around several important factors, such as base and residual pay, which have reportedly been negatively impacted by inflation and the rise of streaming services. Other key grievances include benefits and the potential unregulated use of artificial intelligence.
Disappointment is expressed by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) regarding this stalemate. They claim that the decision to strike lies with the Union and not them. Furthermore, they state that their proposed deal included historic pay and residual increase, enhanced pension and health contributions, audition protections, shorter series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal to protect actors’ digital likenesses.
However, negotiations have ceased, and the AMPTP criticizes SAG-AFTRA for exacerbating financial hardship for those reliant on the industry for their livelihoods.
In a separate development, the Writers Guild of America has already been on strike since their contract expired on May 2. Currently, there are no signs of progress or plans for negotiations.
The writer’s strike has already caused the immediate shutdown of various late-night talk shows and “Saturday Night Live.” Additionally, several scripted shows, including popular series like “Stranger Things,” “Hacks,” and “Family Guy,” have either halted their production or paused their writers’ rooms. With the actors now joining in, more disruptions are expected to follow suit.