A nearly four-month Hollywood actors strike came to an end Thursday after the SAG-AFTRA union announced it reached a tentative deal with major studios.
SAG-AFTRA represents approximately 160,000 film and TV actors and media professionals who have been on strike since mid-July. A dual strike of Hollywood writers – which ended when the Writers Guild of America reached a separate deal with the AMPTP in September – had brought much TV and film to a halt, leaving fresh content slates largely empty, and as the actors strike dragged on raised concerns for 2024 lineups.
On Wednesday SAG-AFTRA told members that its negotiating committee voted unanimously to approve a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and as of Thursday officially suspended the strike, which had paralyzed much of the film and TV industry and left thousands out of work. The AMPTP includes Netflix, Disney, NBCUniversal, and Warner Bros. Discovery, which had leadership participating directly in negotiations, as well as Amazon, Apple and others.
Details of the deal haven’t yet been released as the agreement goes to the SAG-AFTRA National Board for review, but it appears actors will get some sort of compensation tied to streaming participation. In a statement to members Wednesday, SAG-AFTRA said the contract is valued at over $1 billion and “includes ‘above-pattern’ minimum compensation increases, unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and for the first time establishes a streaming participation bonus.” SAG-AFTRA also said pension and health caps were raised substantially and that the deal includes numerous improvements for multiple categories, “including outsize compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities.”
The protracted strike saw tense negotiations between studios and the union at times, with AMPTP walking away in mid-October. Some of the union's key issues centered on the TV and film business and media companies’ rapid shift to streaming, and the ability for performers to not only take part in but earn sustainable compensation from streaming-related transformations in the entertainment industry, as well protections around the use of artificial intelligence.
“We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers,” SAG-AFTRA said in an update to members Wednesday. “Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work.”
Last month talks broke down when the sides were too far apart, including SAG-AFTRA seeking a revenue-sharing proposal. After talks were suspended Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, appearing at a Bloomberg conference, called out the proposal and said “a levy on top of our revenue or per subscriber…that just felt like a bridge too far” at that point in negotiations.
SAG-AFTRA for its part said the AMPTP was using “bully tactics” and that the union had transformed its revenue share proposal.
On November 6, SAG-AFTRA formally responded to AMPTP’s latest proposal – which studios billed as their “last, best & final” offer – and talks continued this week. According to Deadline, about 30 minutes before the tentative agreement was reached, the AMPTP told SAG-AFTRA on Wednesday that it needed to know if a deal was doable or not by 5 p.m. PT, as it was running out of time to salvage the broadcast season and 2024 movie slate.
The deal comes as major media companies including Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney this week reported their latest quarterly earnings, where WBD attributed a loss of 700,000 streaming subscribers primarily to “an extraordinarily light content slate.”
SAG-AFTRA members will still need to ratify the tentative agreement before it’s official. Hollywood writers represented by the WGA ratified a new three-year contract with studios in late September, ending a strike that started May 2. The WGA-AMPTP agreement included protections around the use of AI and bonuses tied to streaming viewership.