(The Yorkshire Analysis) — Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike is on the brink of a historic 100th day. Despite previous positive negotiations with screenwriters, the actors’ stand-off endures.
Here, we delve into the reasons behind the impasse, how it compares to past industry strikes, and what lies ahead.
Insights into the Stalled Talks
After a 2.5-month hiatus, SAG-AFTRA leaders entered negotiations with a sense of hope. However, progress remained sluggish, with days between sessions and limited signs of advancement.
Disappointingly, talks ceased abruptly on Oct. 11, as studios deemed the actors’ demands economically unfeasible and the two parties too distant to forge ahead. This left many baffled, including SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, who voiced her perplexity at the decision.
Contentious Points of Contention are Subscriber Fees and AI Control
Central to the deadlock was SAG-AFTRA’s proposal for a fee tied to streaming service subscribers. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) deemed this demand, alongside other unresolved issues, financially untenable.
This discrepancy led to a stalemate. Notably, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos underscored the negative impact of this development on industry momentum.
Tax on Subscribers or Shifting Models
SAG-AFTRA countered claims that their proposal amounted to a subscriber tax, arguing that it was the studios pushing for a shift from popularity-based models to subscriber counts.
The figures presented by studios, asserting an $800 million annual cost, were challenged by SAG-AFTRA, who considered them grossly exaggerated. The subsequent adjustment to 57 cents per subscriber per year further complicated negotiations.
Actors Strike Crosses a Historic Milestone, 100-Days
SAG-AFTRA finds itself in unprecedented territory, grappling with a strike that eclipses any in its history. Members and leaders are committed to public rallies and picketing until studios signal a willingness to return to negotiations.
However, the duration of this hiatus remains uncertain, as the union stands resolute in their demands.
A Glimmer of Hope
Writers, too, faced initial setbacks before eventually securing favorable terms. Their attempts to restart negotiations in mid-August, after three months of strike, initially faltered. However, subsequent talks resulted in a tentative deal after five intensive days. This experience offers a glimmer of optimism for the actors’ future negotiations.
Hollywood actors’ strikes, while less frequent than writers’, have often revolved around technological advancements. The Screen Actors Guild’s (later merged with AFTRA) three strikes against film and TV studios have been shaped by industry shifts.
Notably, the 1960 strike, the only simultaneous action with writers, centered on residuals for televised film work. This conflict ultimately resulted in a compromise benefiting both parties.
Longest Strike: The 1980 Stalemate
The 1980 strike marked the longest stand-off for actors, spanning 67 days. It focused on compensation for home video and cable TV appearances, alongside minimum compensation hikes. While a tentative agreement was reached, it took a month to garner sufficient votes for ratification.
Impact on Productions (Movies and TV Shows in Limbo)
While writers return to their desks, productions await the actors’ resolution. Several TV shows and major films, including “Wicked,” “Deadpool 3,” and “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 2,” remain suspended. Awards ceremonies like the Emmys and the upcoming Oscars could also face delays, impacting promotional activities.
The protracted actors’ strike poses unprecedented challenges for both the industry and its stakeholders. With a history-making milestone on the horizon, the future of negotiations remains uncertain.
As Hollywood navigates these uncharted waters, the resolution of this strike will undoubtedly shape the landscape of the entertainment industry for years to come.