Negotiations between Hollywood studios and the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union hit a roadblock as the two sides clashed over streaming revenue, the use of artificial intelligence, and other issues central to a three-month work stoppage. The suspension of talks on Wednesday disrupted efforts to resolve labor tensions that have halted most U.S.-based film and television production, costing the California economy billions and leaving thousands of crew members unemployed.
The studios announced the pause in negotiations, citing an unbridgeable gap between the two sides, despite offering terms similar to those that recently resolved the writers strike. The actors’ union criticized their counterparts’ “bullying tactics” and accused them of misrepresenting their proposals.
The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has been on strike since July. Last week, the union resumed negotiations with studios after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) ended its work stoppage. Hopes for a swift resolution were dashed when the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) announced the suspension of talks after reviewing the latest union proposal.
“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,” stated the AMPTP, representing media companies like Netflix and Walt Disney.
In a letter to members issued early Thursday, SAG-AFTRA expressed disappointment, revealing that studios had walked away from the bargaining table after refusing to counter their latest offer. One contentious issue is SAG-AFTRA’s demand for a share of streaming revenue to be provided as a bonus to cast members. The AMPTP argued that the proposal would cost over $800 million per year, creating an unsustainable economic burden.
SAG-AFTRA contested this, accusing the studios of overstating the cost and employing “bully tactics.” The union also criticized studios for their refusal to protect performers from being replaced by AI. The AMPTP claimed they had committed to obtaining actors’ consent before using digital replicas of their likenesses.
Regarding general wage increases and residuals for high-budget streaming shows, the AMPTP offered terms ratified by the WGA and the Directors Guild of America, which were rejected by SAG-AFTRA.
This development followed the WGA’s approval of a new three-year contract with major studios this week, five months after the union initiated a strike. The new contract includes pay raises, some protections related to AI use, and other benefits.