Complete Hollywood Shutdown

Hollywood actors’ union SAG-AFTRA to strike at midnight. ‘We are the victims here.’

SAG-AFTRA’s national board on Thursday approved a strike action after negotiations with the major studios failed to reach an agreement on a new film and TV contract.

SAG-AFTRA’s national board of directors on Thursday voted unanimously to approve a strike action by tens of thousands of Hollywood actors, widening the scope of labor unrest in an entertainment industry that is already facing numerous headwinds.

The vote came after negotiations between the actors’ union and the major studios failed to reach an agreement on a new film and TV contract.

Actors — similarly to screenwriters already on picket lines — have been battling studios for a pact that would deliver far better pay and residuals from streaming and address other issues, including the use of artificial intelligence, that have been roiling the entertainment landscape.

Despite the last-minute involvement of a federal mediator, the 160,000-member union was unable to secure a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios in labor dealings. The old collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night without a deal in place.

Union leaders announced the board’s vote at a noon news conference in Los Angeles.

“We are the victims here,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said during a fiery speech. “We are being victimized by a very greedy entity.”

“I’m shocked by the way the people we have been in business with are treating us,” Drescher added. “It is disgusting. Shame on them. They stand on the wrong side of history at this very moment.”

The studios said the union walked away from an offer that included “historic” increases in pay and residuals, as well as a “groundbreaking” proposal for AI protections. The group said its offer included a requirement for performer’s consent for the creation and use of digital replicas or for digital alterations of a performance.

“A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life,” the AMPTP said in a Thursday statement in response to the union’s strike declaration. “The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry.”

The board’s vote clears the way for the union to begin nationwide pickets starting Friday and deepens the labor strife that has disrupted Hollywood since scribes represented by the Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2. The actors’ strike begins at midnight.

The strike is expected to grind even more productions to a halt and make it difficult for studios to promote upcoming films and TV shows, with SAG-represented actors unable to do press interviews for their projects, attend premieres or go to film festivals.

It marks the first time in 63 years that both actors and writers have been on strike at the same time as Hollywood grapples with issues over how talent is compensated in the streaming era.

The union has been pushing for an increase in minimum wages to counter the effects of inflation. The actors also want increases to streaming residuals — royalties for when TV shows and films are replayed — and for their members to participate in the success of hits. They also want their health and pension plans boosted and desire protections related to the use of artificial intelligence, which has become an increasingly prevalent tool for studios and filmmakers.

SAG-AFTRA also pushed for curbs to the practice of self-taped auditions, which actors argue put undue pressure and costs on performers trying to get work.

“The AMPTP has remained steadfast in devaluing the work of our members” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s chief negotiator. “A strike is an instrument of last resort… Unfortunately, they have left us with no alternative.”

AMPTP said that it was disappointed, putting the blame on the union. The group said a strike would deepen financial harm for those dependent on the industry, which includes not just writers and actors but also prop warehouses, makeup artists and set designers.

AMPTP said the studios offered the union the “highest percentage increase” in guild minimums in 35 years, limits to self-taped tryouts and substantial increases in pension and health contribution caps, among other proposals. The group said its offers included a 58% increase in salaries for major role (guest star) performers wages on high-budget streaming programs and a pay increase of at least 11% in year one for background actors, stand-ins and photo doubles.


Disney CEO Bob Iger calls actors and writers not ‘realistic’ in contract demands

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger, in an interview on CNBC, said the expectations of the writers and actors are “just not realistic” and that their job actions are “adding to a set of challenges that this business is already facing that is quite frankly very disruptive and dangerous.”

The union leaders, however, said the AMPTP’s concessions were insufficient. Crabtree-Ireland specifically cited the studios’ AI proposal as offering inadequate safeguards, particularly for background actors. They also chafed at the notion that actors would be to blame for hurting entertainment economy.

“This is where we drew the line in the sand, and it’s a terrible thing to have to do,” Drescher said. “But we we’re forced into it.”

Negotiations began June 7, ahead of which SAG-AFTRA secured a strike authorization from members with a 98% approval margin.

Ahead of the original June 30 deadline, Drescher said in a video message to members that the two sides were having “extremely productive” talks. However, that triggered concern from some of the union’s most high-profile members, including A-list stars, who wrote an open letter to leadership pressuring them not to settle for anything short of a “transformative” deal.

“We are concerned by the idea that SAG-AFTRA members may be ready to make sacrifices that leadership is not,” said the letter signed by Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and Ben Stiller. “This is an unprecedented inflection point in our industry, and what might be considered a good deal in any other years is simply not enough.”

The union was not able to secure a deal before last month’s deadline and extended the contract by 12 days to allow negotiations to continue until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12.


Hollywood studios could face two strikes for the first time in 63 years. How did we get here?

Earlier this week, the AMPTP requested assistance from a federal mediator, which SAG-AFTRA agreed to. But the relationship between the two sides appeared to have soured. The guild accused the AMPTP of leaking information about the mediation plan before negotiators were made aware of it, calling the move a “cynical ploy.”

Inside the business of entertainment

The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.


They note here from Deadline inside sources on the studio’s strategy and how it may have failed with SAG-AFTRA now on strike.
I do know a lot/most of commercials require SAG members, at least here in nyc.
-commercial shots with production companies using union crews I would guess.
So does this apply to commercial/non-studio productions? It seems maybe not?

This is very worrying of course for those vfx houses in LA and Vancouver whose main business is in film and tv. Just with the writers strike I no longer see the “many” random shoots in Brownstone’s here in Bedstuy Brooklyn.

SAG has a separate contract for commercials so it’s not supposed to affect commercial production. Of course, if there are no new shows coming out for the next year, there probably aren’t going to be as many commercials in production.


The Rust Belt was formed by Manufacturers and Unions working at odds until entire industries moved or disappeared.

If anyone thinks it can’t happen in the entertainment industry, they better think again, IMHO.


If VFX Formed a union right now, would the actors and writers stand by us?


If VFX Formed a union right now, would the actors and writers stand by us?

No way.


Thanks Greg, I thought that was the save but wasn’t really sure.

I would bet Alan’s probably right in this. Life of Pi, Game of Thrones etc etc……
But in reality almost nothing if anything at all gets done without vfx, Be it compositing, finishing, Color, and the big one these are all needed in, “Advertising”.
A proper vfx Union would probably be the largest and given the above most powerful one(in the industry), no?
I think it would be a serious undertaking to make this happen though.

Then would the question actually be, would the vfx union support SAG and the Writers?

The union strikes and argument are all fair. But the much bigger threat to the work pipeline comes from the fact that the streaming business model is broken (more accurately the math never worked, people just ignored it). Several good articles have been written about that.

2002: 182 scripted TV series
2012: 288 scripted TV series
2022: 599 scripted TV series

(not counting unscripted even, which probably has similar numbers)

Subscriber revenue (combined cable + streamer accounts) certainly hasn’t gone up 3x, nor has advertising inventory. In fact inflation squeezed post-Covid consumers are trimming their subscriptions. Plus production value and cost has gone up significantly since 2002. Netflix (and other shows) look way better than what we were served up in 2002.

There was a total disconnect between cost and revenue trajectories, thanks to ‘growth at all cost’, wanting a seat at the table, and cheap money. Add to it that Amazon and Apple are very diversified trillion dollar market cap businesses that have lots of cash to roll the dice with. Well now everything is getting squeezed and re-evaluated from all sides.

My guess, is 1/3rd of jobs that existed in 2022 won’t come back after all this is over. And we’ve already heard of some displaced people moving across or downstream, taking work that used to go to people lower in the hierarchy.

So there is another elephant in the room that stinks a lot more than just working conditions, residuals, etc.


Was hoping this would get talked about. Also add in the that at a certain point streaming platforms went from “we want to be the place where you go to watch movies and tv” to “we want to be the place that you spend all your time on the internet at.” Competing with social media- especially YouTube and TikTok with their ability to effortlessly provide enormous amounts of content- was never a smart idea. A guy sitting at a computer playing video games in front of a ring light is just as popular as the top Netflix series at any given time and basically has $0 production costs.


I’m not sure the point you’re making. I might be misinterpreting you, but are you trying to say that unions were responsible for the drastic decline in rust belt manufacturing from the 1970s onward? If so, that’s way way too simplistic and simply not accurate.


Now, it seems that we met long tunnel and it is getting worse.

“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Acknowledging the cold-as-ice approach, several other sources reiterated the statement. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”


I’m no expert in labor law but my understanding is that this strategy is not legal in the US.
The article notes this is the same strategy used by the studios with Agencies and so they are using this with the Unions since it was successful. But labor negotiations are protected under federal law and bad faith strategies, negotiations are illegal.
Unfortunately this would most likely mean that members of Congress and or the Governor of California would need to call on the NLRB to investigate which they are required to do first in order to intervene and force the Studio’s to the bargaining table.


Commercial production should not be affected according to AICP representation.


Do you think it’s fair to be have your digi double likeness used forever for a measly $200?

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Black Mirror new Season anyone?
Episode “Joan is Awful”


What an extraordinarily impassioned speech. I doubt the other side could justify their argument with as much conviction. She summed up the situation perfectly,
“What are we doing, moving around furniture on the Titanic?” The studios are panicking (hence their extraordinary aggressivity), shoring up costs to keep margins steady and seeing technology as the long term profit solution. But the truth is that the media creation bubble has probably burst and the studios don’t want to pay for the damage because their fickle corporate pay masters will move on to other industries … but in the end someone will have to pay and I think we know who it will be.

There is a fascinating historical event that semi relates: [Dodge v. Ford] (Dodge v. Ford: What Happened and Why?) - for some Saturday morning coffee reading.

While there are different theories about Henry Ford’s motivations, here’s the general outline.

The Dodge Brothers had made a substantial investment into Ford stock, and as many companies back then Ford was paying a decent dividend. In 1913 Ford wanted to cut back the dividend, among other reasons to increase worker pay to hold back union unrest. However, the Dodge Brothers were intent of getting a big dividend pay out in order to fund their own expansion, and sued Ford in court over cutback in dividends. At the time Ford had the advantage in the market with the assembly line, and one of his success stories was that if his workers made enough that they could afford to buy their own car that Ford made, his market would grow and so would the company (this part is better known about him). But he needed workers to be content and not follow the union, for which he needed to use the dividend money to raise wages…

Not that he was particularly labor friendly in any way. He just understood the strategic value of labor, in what the was considered an ‘uneasy labor-owner coalition’. The same could be achieved in Hollywood as the industry re-pivots around streaming and AI.

BTW: The Dodge Brothers prevailed and he had to buy them out. Sometimes short-term greed does win over long-term strategy that sees labor as an asset rather than an expense.

Nope. It’s silly. Stinks like a typical greed-laden corporate “bargaining position.” We’ve only begun to hear what some of the AMPTP’s nonsensical “bargaining” positions have been presented in these “negotiations.” “Stock Price Uber Alles.”