Exclusive: SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP continued to communicate sporadically Sunday as they moved closer to reaching a new agreement that could end the 108-day strike.
“There is a sense of optimism,” a union source told Deadline today. “It looks like we’re in the final stretch,” a senior studio source added.
Both sides expressed confidence in the possibility of reaching an agreement within days, but as we warned before, the situation remains fluid.
From our understanding, SAG-AFTRA and the studios have gained “significant” traction in closing the gap between them on so-called success-based compensation for streaming shows and their actors.
Neither SAG-AFTRA nor AMPTP responded to a request for comment on today’s talks.
Negotiating teams from both sides – SAG-AFTRA Chief Negotiator, National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree – Ireland and AMPTP President Carole Lombardini – spoke several times virtually throughout the day. As yesterday, the studio’s CEO gang of four — Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley — were not present on today’s Zoom calls.
There has been a shift in attitude among studios that entered the weekend “disappointed” by the guild’s proposal on Friday to become more optimistic as both sides see potential common ground heading into this week.
“There’s still a list to work through,” an insider told us of SAG-AFTRA’s intent to come up with fair residual broadcast revenue for the 160,000-member guild as well as performers’ likeness rights protected in connection with studios’ use of AI. The most challenging point in the current deal to reach is the two sides agreeing on the revenue money flowing to the actors.
Talks resumed on October 24 after studios halted them for 12 days, with major labels offering increases in minimum rates and increased bonuses based on the success of streaming content. Working on their WGA deal, the studios have proposed a 7% increase in the minimum, with SAG-AFTRA on Friday offering a self-described “blanket counter” that goes from an 11% hike to 9%. A measure of the studio’s success in response to SAG-AFTRA’s request was to impose an annual fee of 57 cents per subscriber on October 11, which Sarandos described as a “tax on subscribers” and “a bridge too far.”
With three big films worth $1.5 billion at the global box office alone leaving the 2024 calendar —Mission Impossible 8 And Disney snow white And Pixar Elio – Studios are sweating when it comes to global film reboots and TV productions, even though they just signed a contract with the WGA and clerks are already working. The gallery, which has weathered losses and racked up massive debt during the pandemic, fears for its survival next year as the release calendar is no longer aligned with its tentpoles. Big summer start title, Marvel Studios Deadpool 3, is 50% complete and will not be released the first weekend of May. The hope was that the Ryan Reynolds-Hugh Jackman film would resume filming in January, although with each day of the strike, that goal, along with a new TV season, remains in limbo. Once the strike subsides, there will be competition among actors between TV projects and feature projects. It wouldn’t be surprising to see if some back away from their feature commitments because their TV series might be in first place. With Wall Street long anticipating a recession, studios are hoping to rectify the $6.5 billion economic loss California has suffered due to the double whammy.
Last Thursday night, several prominent artists including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jon Hamm, Sarah Paulson, Chelsea Handler, and Christian Slater told the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee that they were willing to continue picketing until a fair agreement was reached. This gambit from the cast stands in contrast to a Zoom call two weeks ago between SAG-AFTRA brass and several awards season contenders, like George Clooney, Emma Stone, Robert De Niro, and Ariana DeBose, who offered the union $150 million over three years to remove a cap. A cap on union dues so that those actors at the bottom of the call-up list benefit first. SAG-AFTRA leader Fran Drescher thanked Clooney, who led the effort, but said the offer was not legally compatible with the union’s contract and that it “doesn’t impact the contract we have at all.”
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