The first day of the renewed talks between the studios and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has concluded, marking the 103rd day since the actors' union went on strike. The talks had been suspended on October 11 due to disagreements over additional payouts based on the success of streaming shows. The discussions resumed on a more positive note today, with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) presenting new proposals. However, the response to these proposals has been less than stellar.
According to insider sources, the studios' proposal for "success-based compensation" was deemed underwhelming by the guild. Despite some raw feelings over the studios' sudden departure from talks two weeks ago, both sides managed to complete a nearly full day of deliberations. The presence of industry leaders such as Bob Iger, Donna Langley, David Zaslav, and Ted Sarandos at the negotiating table demonstrated the significance of these talks.
The studios' latest counterproposal focuses on compensating cast members more generously. However, the concept of revenue sharing and a proposed "subscriber levy" has been a major sticking point throughout the negotiations. While studio sources describe their proposal as generous, the reaction from the guild has been less positive.
The negotiations between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA have been characterized by a fundamental difference in opinion regarding the changing landscape of the entertainment industry. Streaming platforms have created a shift in revenue distribution, impacting the residuals system and diminishing opportunities for working actors. SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher has highlighted the need for fair compensation in the face of a disrupted syndication model and the substantial profits enjoyed by industry executives.
As the strike reached its 100th day, several A-list stars, including George Clooney and Emma Stone, met virtually to discuss potential solutions. While a $150 million offer spearheaded by Clooney aimed to remove union dues caps, it ultimately didn't align with the union's contract with studios. Nevertheless, this gesture, along with other conversations between A-listers and studio executives, contributed to the decision to resume negotiations.
The longer the strike continues, the more it impacts the production schedules of the new TV season and upcoming films. Theatrical releases have already been reshuffled, leading to significant financial losses for exhibitors. Additionally, the economic toll of the strike has reached $6.5 billion, resulting in the loss of 45,000 industry jobs and a substantial decline in fall box office revenues.
Ultimately, the resolution of the strike depends on finding common ground between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA. Both sides acknowledge the evolving nature of the industry but differ in their approach to compensation. With the striking actors expressing robust support for their negotiating committee, the outcome of these renewed talks remains uncertain.