After several days of intense speculation, the negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP seemed to have hit a standstill. According to an insider, Thursday was “more of a waiting game” as the studios remained silent during the 112th day of the actors’ strike. Despite the expectation that the two sides would engage in conversations, the AMPTP did not respond to the revised AI proposal sent over by the guild on Wednesday, nor have they given any feedback on the “comprehensive counter” presented on October 28. As a result, no formal talks took place between guild negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and AMPTP president Carol Lombardini. However, both parties maintain their optimism and caution against overanalyzing the lack of communication. A guild source emphasized that this is how negotiations should proceed for a fair and satisfactory agreement, indicating that the delay could signify the seriousness with which the proposals are being considered.
Although it is uncertain when the AMPTP will respond, industry insiders predict that a response could arrive “soon-ish” and will determine the future schedule of negotiations. Additionally, there are indications that both parties may have found “a comfortable place” concerning the streaming financial revenue share for performers. However, details about this aspect of the negotiations remain scarce, with both SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP opting not to comment on the matter.
As negotiations remained at a standstill, guild members continued to express their discontent by participating in picket lines. While the picket line was down at Fox and remained suspended at Universal, guild members marched at Netflix, Sony, Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros Discovery, and Amazon. Notably, guild negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland made an appearance at the headquarters of Amazon to show support for the cause. These ongoing picket actions highlight the significant impact the strikes have had on the entertainment sector, including the suspension of production and the consequential financial strain on working families. It is estimated that the labor actions have cost the California economy over $6.5 billion to date and have resulted in the loss of 45,000 entertainment-sector jobs.
During Paramount Global’s earnings call, CFO Naveen Chopra revealed that the strikes have imposed “nearly $60 million of strike-related idle costs” on the company. These costs include expenses incurred to retain production capabilities while the strike remains ongoing, affecting both the TV media and film entertainment segments. CEO Bob Bakish further acknowledged the strikes’ impact, specifically mentioning changes made to the film slate due to the continued SAG-AFTRA strike. Bakish expressed the hope that normal operations would resume soon, conveying his desire to overcome the challenges caused by the strikes.
While the core CEOs from major studios were involved in the negotiations initially, they have not been part of recent discussions. Currently, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Carol Lombardini are leading the negotiations, while the CEOs remain on standby should their involvement be required. The studios are anxiously waiting to restart feature and TV production, particularly for projects such as Deadpool 3, Mission: Impossible 8, and Gladiator 2, which were shut down midway through filming. The progress made between the writers’ and actors’ guilds will provide a benchmark for future negotiations involving IATSE and the Teamsters next year. All parties involved in the industry are keenly aware of the potential impact of artificial intelligence and recognize the importance of negotiating regulations and compensation agreements to ensure a fair and sustainable future for everyone in the entertainment business.
SAG-AFTRA’s negotiations focus not only on protecting top talent but also on securing AI rights for extras and performers who occupy the lower ranks of the call sheet. The guild insists that members’ likenesses should not be duplicated countless times without appropriate compensation. Their current proposal suggests that AI usage and payment should be determined on a project-by-project basis to prevent exploitation and safeguard the integrity of acting as a viable profession for all its 160,000 members.
While the negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP may have hit a temporary pause, both sides maintain their optimism for a fair deal. The lack of response from the studios does not indicate a lack of seriousness but instead emphasizes the careful consideration given to the proposals. The ongoing picket lines and the significant financial impact on the studios serve as a reminder of the urgency to reach a resolution. Ultimately, the progress made in these negotiations will not only shape the immediate future of the entertainment industry but also set the tone for negotiations involving other unions and the rising influence of artificial intelligence.