Hollywood actors reached a tentative agreement with major studios on Wednesday to resolve the second of two strikes that rocked the entertainment industry this year as workers demanded higher pay in the streaming TV era.
The union said Wednesday its negotiators had reached a preliminary deal on a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Walt Disney, Netflix and other media companies.
The 118-day work stoppage will end officially at 12:01 a.m. PT on Thursday, the SAG-AFTRA union said in a statement after its negotiating committee voted unanimously to support the deal.
Valued at more than $1 billion US, the new three-year contract includes increases in minimum salaries and a new “streaming participation” bonus, the union said.
The deal also provides protections against unauthorized use of images generated by artificial intelligence (AI), an area that had emerged as a major concern from performers who feared being replaced by “digital doubles.”
“We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers,” the union said.
SAG-AFTRA President and The Nanny star Fran Drescher wrote on Instagram: “We did it!!!! The Billion+ $ Deal!”
The group’s national board will consider the agreement on Friday, and the union said it would release further details after that meeting.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said Wednesday’s agreement represented “a new paradigm” that gave the union its “biggest contract-on-contract gains” in its history.
The organization representing media companies said it “looks forward to the industry resuming the work of telling great stories.”
Members of SAG-AFTRA walked off the job in mid-July asking for an increase in minimum salaries, a share of streaming service revenue and protection from being replaced by “digital replicas” generated by artificial intelligence.
With the strike ending, Hollywood can ramp up to full production for the first time since May.
“I’m relieved,” actor Fanny Grande said in an interview. “[The strike has] been really difficult for most people in the industry, especially people of colour. As it is, we don’t have as many opportunities. We aren’t big celebrities that have money in the bank for months. I just really hope that it’s a fair deal.”
Similar concerns to writers
Actors had similar concerns to film and television writers, arguing that compensation for working-class cast members had dwindled as streaming took hold, making it hard to earn a living wage in cities such as Los Angeles and New York. TV series on streaming have not offered the same residual payments that actors enjoyed during the heyday of broadcast TV.
Performers also became alarmed by recent advances in artificial intelligence, which they feared could lead to studios manipulating their likenesses without permission or replacing human actors with digital images.
George Clooney and other A-list stars voiced solidarity with lower-level actors and had urged union leadership to reach a resolution.
Many film and TV sets shut down when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) called a strike in the spring. While WGA members returned to work in late September, the ongoing SAG-AFTRA work stoppage left many productions dark.
The disruptions cost California more than $6 billion US in lost output, according to a Milken Institute estimate.
Hollywood’s work stoppages forced broadcast networks to fill their fall lineups with reruns, game shows and reality shows. It also led movie studios to delay big releases such as Dune: Part 2 because striking actors could not promote them.
Other major films, including the latest instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise and Disney’s live-action remake of Snow White, were postponed until 2025.