Talks to resolve the actors strike have been “suspended,” according to statements from SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, AMPTP, after the actors guild presented its most recent proposal on Wednesday. Actors and Hollywood studios have been back at the bargaining table for less than two weeks following two months of no communication.
“After meaningful conversations, it is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction,” the AMPTP said in a statement.
SAG-AFTRA’s negotiating committee shared an update on the guild’s website today and accused the entertainment companies of using “bullying tactics” and “intentionally misrepresenting” the cost of guild’s revenue share proposal. The AMPTP said SAG-AFTRA’s current offer included “what it characterized as a viewership bonus.” The studio representatives said the “bonus” alone would cost over $800 million per year and “create an untenable economic burden.”
“The companies are using the same failed strategy they tried to inflict on the WGA (Writers Guild of America) – putting out misleading information in an attempt to fool our members into abandoning our solidarity and putting pressure on our negotiators,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement. “But, just like the writers, our members are smarter than that and will not be fooled.”
The breakdown comes as a surprise after the two sides came back together shortly after the WGA struck its deal with the studios, setting an expectation that there was a precedent to follow. The SAG-AFTRA actors union has been on strike since July after its contract expired. The guild members’ demands include higher pay along with more contributions to pension and healthcare funds as well as recalculated residuals members are paid through streaming service revenue. The union also wants changes for “abusive” self-taping audition process and, like writers, protection against the use of artificial intelligence.
The guild members joined the Hollywood writers on the picket line and brought the entertainment industry to a grinding halt. With both groups on strike, the fate of the 2023-2024 television season looked grim. But even as the writers have gone back to work, having no actors means production can’t resume. Studios are beginning to feel the strain of the standoff in their bottom lines.
Warner Bros. Discovery was reported to possibly lose up to $500 million in adjusted earnings this year due to the strikes. In August, the entertainment industry had lost 17,000 jobs “reflecting strike activity,” according to an employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Fallout of the continued actors strike is already being felt. Netflix reportedly plans to restructure its animation unit which will result in job cuts. The streaming giant is also considering outsourcing some work to third-party companies.
After yesterday’s news, it’s questionable whether the momentum from the end of the writers’ strike and the similar concessions between the two organizations could help the actors and studios more quickly find common ground.