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Hollywood Actors Join Writers In Strike, Halting Film And TV Production

SAG-AFTRA members demand fair pay and protection against AI threat, impacting industry worldwide.
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It’s a new day in Hollywood, one unlike any other in over six decades.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union representing about 160,000 media professionals ranging from actors to stunt performers, announced a strike after failing to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Actors in the SAG-AFTRA union join the already striking WGA union, film and tv writers on the picket line, on the first day of a SAG-AFTRA strike, in Los Angeles, CA, on July 14, 2023. (Katie McTiernan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) 

The actors’ strike, which comes on the heels of an ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, will halt film and television production worldwide. The impacts of the labor stoppage will be striking, affecting everything from award shows and film festivals to box office revenues and movie premieres.

The actors represented by SAG-AFTRA are fighting for better pay and working conditions, given the seismic shifts in the entertainment industry due to the rise of streaming services and the looming threat of artificial intelligence.

“We don’t need to stall all production with strikes because that would affect the union and non-unions,” said Lou Pizarro, who was the producer and creator of Operation Repo. “I get everyone needs to get fair pay, make a living wage, and earn their residuals.”

Their concerns are far from trivial: declining residuals, stagnant wages, unpredictable job opportunities, and the potential misuse of AI technologies to replicate an actor’s performance have all come under the spotlight, according to Variety.

The union’s demands resonate with the membership, with 98% of the 65,000 SAG members who cast a ballot voting in favor of the strike.

The strike is expected to pummel the industry. Actors are refusing to provide their labor. A significant source of profits for studios, production companies, and streaming services would be abruptly cut off.

A majority of film and television sets will be closed indefinitely, pushing back release dates for new movies and shows.

Actors will also be barred from promoting their upcoming projects, a vital part of movie marketing strategies. The strike notice issued by SAG-AFTRA includes participation in premieres, press junkets, interviews, panels, and social media promotion, leading to a potential dip in box office performance, affecting companies tied to the new and upcoming movies.

If an agreement is not reached soon, the effects will be wide-ranging, hitting streaming companies and studios like Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX), Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS), Comcast Corporation’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Paramount Global’s (NASDAQ:PARA) (NASDAQ:PARAA), Warner Bros Discovery Inc’s (NASDAQ:WBD), and Sony Group Corp (NYSE:SONY)

Several major film festivals scheduled in the coming months will likely be heavily impacted. The fall trifecta of Venice, Toronto, and Telluride are expected to bear the brunt, according to ScreenDaily.

“I think it’s a sad, but an unfortunate necessity. Things have to change, money has to be shared, and the studios have to stop hiding behind this ridiculous notion that they are ‘losing money,’” said Stephen Meier, an executive producer and writer for Woodbridge and the founder of Dream Faktory Studios. “You can’t say that then report that your CEO earned hundreds of millions. It’s offensive. Yet, what is really shocking is how the DGA got a record deal.”

That means festivals, which thrive on star attendance and press coverage, could see a dramatic decrease in ticket sales, sponsor satisfaction, and overall buzz.

Major productions are also feeling the impact of the strike. For instance, Marvel’s “Deadpool 3” halted filming due to the ongoing strike, making it one of the first major productions to be affected, according to Variety.

The cast of “Oppenheimer,” a much anticipated movie release, left the premier, according to ABC. The cast, featuring names like Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and more, was part of the project filmed by Universal Pictures.

The longest actors’ strike on record lasted for six months in 2000. Today, with not just actors but also screenwriters on the picket lines, the Hollywood landscape faces an unprecedented challenge.=

Produced in association with Benzinga

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