George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Ben Affleck and Tyler Perry, among other A-list actors, met with leaders of SAG-AFTRA on Tuesday to discuss the guild’s most recent proposal six days after the studios abruptly walked away from talks.
SAG-AFTRA declined to confirm the details of the meeting. “We meet with members of all profiles every day and we won’t be commenting on those private conversations,” the guild said in a statement to TheWrap.
Representatives for the actors did not respond to requests to comment.
The meeting, conducted on Zoom Tuesday afternoon, happened just shy of a week after the studios, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, announced the decision to quit negotiations.
In its statement Oct. 11, AMPTP cited differences over a proposed revenue-sharing scheme on streaming services.
The breakdown in talks has placed enormous pressure on both sides of the table, as well as throughout the industry, which remains mostly shut down despite the resolution of contracts with both the directors’ and writers’ guilds. The actors have been on strike since July, and their inability to work has put the television season at great risk, as well as the ability of studios to promote and successfully open their holiday season movies.
And as rank and file members of the industry have made clear, they are in great economic difficulty, having not worked in months.
As for the studios, the third quarter of 2023 ended on Oct. 1 and this week Netflix will be the first to give its quarterly earnings call to investors. With the entertainment industry largely at a standstill for most of the second and third fiscal quarters, studios have an urgent need to forecast good news in the final months of the year.
TheWrap reported this week that the decision to walk away came down to a proposal from guild leaders that studios agree to a flat $1 per subscriber, per year fee for all streaming services. That proposal was a step back from the guild’s previous demand, a 1% fee taken from streaming revenue that was a firm non-starter for the companies.
Negotiations concluded with the expectation that talks would resume on Oct. 12. But after discussions ended for the day, the studio bosses who have led talks on behalf of AMPTP — David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, Disney CEO Bob Iger and NBCUniversal’s Studio Group chairman Donna Langley — said there was no point in continuing.
One individual from the studio side of the disagreement dismissed the guild’s proposal as “socialist” when speaking to TheWrap several days later. “We left. I don’t know if we’re coming back anytime soon,” the individual said.
SAG-AFTRA representatives maintain that the move came as a complete surprise. Speaking to TheWrap on Thursday, SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland called the decision to quit talks “inexplicable,” and said there had been no indication of a problem that would lead to a halt.
Crabtree-Ireland said the guild’s proposal was an attempt to offer something different after the negotiation team realized that the studios were “never ever going to agree to anything that involved attachment to their revenue stream.” The studios regarded the new proposal as the same basic principle, but in a different form.
Meanwhile, details about Tuesday’s meeting have not been made public, but according to Deadline, which first reported on it, the A-list participants were particularly interested in the guild’s proposed revenue sharing plan. And though guild sources say the actors were “extremely supportive,” they also came with feedback, suggestions and questions of their own.
For all of TheWrap’s Hollywood strike coverage, click here.