SAG-AFTRA delivered its response Thursday to the latest proposal from the major studios, as the two sides appeared to be making progress toward ending the actors strike.
The sides are expected to pick up negotiations again on Friday. Both sides are trying to avoid another breakdown in talks, and each one has a strong incentive to get to a deal.
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The studios have warned that next year’s summer blockbusters could be postponed, and TV shows could be canceled, if no deal is reached in the coming week. The union sees that as an empty threat, but is also dealing with growing restlessness among its A-list members.
On Thursday, SAG-AFTRA reduced its demand for a first-year increase in minimum rates from 11% to 9%. That inched closer to the studios’ position, which stands at 7%.
Still, some cautioned against getting overly optimistic.
“Nothing was resolved,” a studio source said.
After 9 p.m., the SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee confirmed to members that talks would resume on Friday.
“Today, we passed a comprehensive counter across the table to the CEOs and while talks for the day have ended, our committee just completed working internally tonight,” the committee said. “We are scheduled to meet across the table again tomorrow.”
The two sides are still at odds on many other issues, including artificial intelligence. Some progress has been seen in that area, though SAG-AFTRA continues to demand that the union be allowed to veto uses of AI in creating digital replicas.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has agreed to obtain consent from performers — though the precise details are still uncertain — but has drawn the line at giving the union a veto as well.
There is also a long list of unresolved items that have received less public attention, but which may take considerable time to sort out.
The CEOs of four major entertainment companies — Disney, Netflix, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery — delivered their latest offer on Tuesday.
The union, led by Fran Drescher, has insisted on taking a cut of revenue amounting to 57 cents per global subscriber from each platform. That would generate about $500 million a year.
The studios have rejected that, calling it “untenable,” and instead offered an increased bonus for the most-watched shows.
On Tuesday, the AMPTP also offered the 7% increase in minimum rates. The studio alliance had previously insisted on 5% — the same given to the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America.
The 7% increase would “break the pattern” — allowing SAG-AFTRA leadership to show members that their months on the picket lines were worth it.
The two sides spent much of Tuesday arguing about the total value of the studios’ proposal. The studios estimate it at about $1.3 billion over three years. But SAG-AFTRA contends that number is inflated, because actors at the upper end do not work for minimum rates, and would not see an increase. SAG-AFTRA argues the true value is around $800 million.
SAG-AFTRA has long demanded an 11% increase in minimums, saying anything less would not keep pace with inflation.
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