Negotiations between the major entertainment studios and the union representing tens of thousands of actors have collapsed, with both sides saying on Thursday morning that they remained far apart on the most significant issues.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of the studios, said that it was suspending talks because they were “no longer moving us in a productive direction” after a session on Wednesday. SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, which has been on strike since July, accused studio executives of “bully tactics,” and said the studios recently presented an offer “that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began.”
The collapse of the negotiations is a significant setback for the entertainment industry, which has essentially been at a standstill for months because of dual strikes by actors and screenwriters. On Monday, more than 8,000 screenwriters ratified a new three-year contract with the studio alliance, formally ending their monthslong labor dispute. There was optimism that a deal with the actors would follow and that Hollywood could soon fully roar back to life.
But with actors continuing to strike, most television and movie production remains suspended. The financial fallout has been significant. The California economy has lost an estimated $5 billion. Tens of thousands of behind-the-scenes workers have been out of work for months. Share prices for many major media companies have dropped, and now there is a further threat to next year’s box office results.
Like their counterparts in the screenwriters guild, leaders of the actors’ union have called this moment “existential.” They are seeking wage increases, as well as protections around the use of artificial intelligence. Actors have now been on strike for 91 days; screenwriters recently returned to work after a 148-day walkout. The last time both unions had been on strike at the same time was 1960.
When negotiations between the actors’ union and the studios resumed last week — just days after the studios and screenwriters had reached a tentative agreement — it represented the first time that the sides had met since the actors went on strike on July 14. There were five bargaining sessions, and many industry observers believed that the talks would soon lead to a deal.
In a statement released early Thursday morning, the studio alliance said it had offered wage increases, met “nearly all of the union’s demands on casting” and proposed further protections around the use of A.I. The alliance also said it offered “the same terms that were ratified” by both the writers’ and directors’ unions regarding wage increases and streaming royalties.
The alliance also said, however, that the actors’ union wanted a viewership bonus that “would cost more than $800 million per year, which would create an untenable economic burden.”
Union leaders accused studio executives of walking away from the bargaining table “after refusing to counter our latest offer.”
“These companies refuse to protect performers from being replaced by artificial intelligence, 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,” union officials said in a statement addressed to members.
“Our resolve is unwavering,” the statement continued. “Join us on picket lines and at solidarity events around the country and let your voices be heard.”