Witching Hour: Studios to Devote Another Week to Resolve SAG Strike or Give Up Until January | Exclusive

If that is the case, the fall TV season is lost and new movies won’t come out until next summer, says insider

SAG-AFTRA Strike Talks Studios AMPTP
(Getty Images/Christopher Smith for TheWrap)

Sharon Waxman

Sharon Waxman On the Business of Entertainment

The founder and editor of TheWrap’s take on life on the left coast, high culture, low culture and the business of entertainment and media. Waxman writes frequently on the inside doings of Hollywood, and is is also the author of two books, Rebels on the Back Lot and Loot

Hollywood studios are giving one more week to negotiations with SAG-AFTRA before they are ready to pack it in for the rest of the year, TheWrap has learned. 

According to an individual with knowledge of their thinking, the studios believe that if they can’t reach a deal in the next week with the Screen Actors Guild, which has been on strike since July 14, then no new production will be able to start before 2024. 

If that is the case, the studios further believe, then the fall television season is lost, and new movies won’t be able to come out until next summer. In this scenario, early November would be the drop-dead date to salvage any ability to put television or movies into production. Once the calendar hits Thanksgiving, it is unlikely any project would begin production, pushing off everything to the new year, this individual said, and killing the studios’ incentive to push for a deal. 

All that puts significant pressure on the talks going on this week. 

The CEOs from four of the major entertainment conglomerates – Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley – will meet anew on Thursday with SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and their legal teams in an effort to reach a contract. 

The negotiations restarted this week on Tuesday after the CEOs walked away two weeks ago over a new demand that SAG-AFTRA receive a $1-per-subscription fee from streaming divisions on top of raises and other benefits that had been negotiated between the two sides. The studios considered that proposal, along with two previous ones seeking a percentage of all streaming revenue, as a non-starter. 

Meanwhile the CEOs, who are negotiating on behalf of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), presented their counter-offer to the guild on Tuesday. 

The guild decided to skip further bargaining on Wednesday so they could discuss the offer. 

An insider familiar with the studio side of talks said there was some surprise among the AMPTP ranks when the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee requested the delay, but they are taking it as a hopeful sign that there will be progress when the two sides do meet again.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first since Oct. 11, when the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios in contract talks, abruptly walked away from talks. The primary disagreement behind that decision concerned SAG-AFTRA’s proposed streaming revenue-sharing plan, which AMPTP leaders characterized as a “levy” on streaming services

SAG-AFTRA estimated its proposal to average to about 57 cents per streaming subscriber, with that revenue being paid to the guild who would in turn distribute it to performers whose work appears on the streaming service. The AMPTP, which says the fee in the actors’ union proposal actually was a $1-per-subscription fee, rejected the proposal in a statement released on Oct. 11, calling it an “untenable economic burden.”

The AMPTP is pushing for a viewership bonus model similar to the one agreed to with the WGA and had believed when talks first resumed that it would have been sufficient to reach a deal with the actors guild. But SAG-AFTRA believes that the revenue-sharing plan is a better model to ensure increased pay for performers throughout the union’s membership for the work they do on streaming films and TV shows.

A SAG-AFTRA representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


43 responses to “Witching Hour: Studios to Devote Another Week to Resolve SAG Strike or Give Up Until January | Exclusive”

  1. Big Boppper Avatar
    Big Boppper

    The Producers are not only Bullies but now kind of appear to be gangsters as well. Did I not read a few days ago how they were determined to reslove this. Stay stron Sag/Aftra fight on.

    1. Billy Brisket Avatar
      Billy Brisket

      Screw the studios. No one trusts them. There is zero reason to trust a CEO, or corporation these days. They don’t care about their employees and they’ve been given the greenlight by their shareholders, wall street, the government, the Koch brothers. The studios never intended to reach a deal this year with SAG.

      1. Shut Up and Talk Avatar
        Shut Up and Talk

        I quote  “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Acknowledging the cold-as-ice approach, several other sources reiterated the statement. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”
        Happy Holidays to actors and crews everywhere. They 100% knew we wouldn’t settle this year. Truly makes me want to leave this business knowing that these are the people that sign my paycheck.

        1. MJ Avatar

          Absolutely! We know how unstable this industry is, and at times abusive with the long hours and lack of safety at times. But for those that have worked as crew for decades, it’s not like they can learn to code, learn a new trade, etc and find a new job asap. It takes time. I hope folks have been learning new skill set in other industries incase another strike happens next year with IATSE.

      2. Bernie B. Avatar
        Bernie B.

        So true!! SAD, but true!!

  2. jan hunter Avatar
    jan hunter

    So…. this sounds like bullshit. Aside from the fact that “do what we want right now or we’ll take our marbles and go home (again)” is a terrible negotiating strategy, if this leak is true, these CEOs should be ousted by their shareholders immediately. “We’d rather just wait another two or three months to get back into production or release our blockbusters” is fiduciary malfeasance. Honestly, you’d think they’d have figured out that the membership of SAG-AFTRA needs a good deal, will wait for a good deal and will not be frightened into division.

  3. Sandy Helberg Avatar
    Sandy Helberg

    Producers don’t want to share the wealth. 

  4. Rebecca Avery Avatar
    Rebecca Avery

    There are a lot of titles that aren’t SAG-related on Disney+, Netflix, etc. If SAG gets paid per subscriber, no matter what they watch, subscription fees will go up (since streamers are still not profitable). Consumers who subscribe to streaming services for news, talk shows, game shows, and documentaries would be paying SAG for projects they weren’t even attached to.

    SAG deserves a good deal, but they shouldn’t be making a profit from content they have nothing to do with. Their payment needs to be limited to their own work (just like in every other industry).

    1. Jo Jo Avatar
      Jo Jo

      Finally a sensible voice in the sea of chaos and Greed!

    2. Debs Avatar

      Hear hear well said!

    3. Brama Golan Avatar
      Brama Golan

      they literally already went up, across multiple services. You think they care about any of this other than their own bottom line? You sound like a studio shill.

    4. MJ Avatar

      Already going up and has gone up!

    5. xoxo gg Avatar

      The streamers could offer 10 cents per subscriber to underwrite SAG-AFTRA Healthcare benefits, lowering the cost of health insurance to all union members.
      Ballpark Netflix at 300M, Disney 150M, Warner 100M, Paramount 75M, Peacock 75M and HULU 50M, that would fund an additional (750M at 10cents) $75M annually, for SAG-AFTRA Healthcare benefits, in perpetuity.

    6. Ellie Avatar

      Streaming prices already went up a few months ago. All profit. None going to SAG AFTRA members… 

  5. rafael burgos Avatar
    rafael burgos

    What about the guys that hold parking for the firm. They don’t get nothing they work with the studio for 17 and hour sometimes 18 an hour.
    My unemployment has ran out. I cant get no help from anybody.
    If we go back to work.
    We going on strike.
    We have to be outside for more than 16 hour a day. While the studio get all the money and we get nothing.
    I am getting all my friend and co worked to do a strike.

  6. And actual source Avatar
    And actual source

    Entire television season is already lost. Nothing is going to go into the production by the end of the year. nothing is going to go into full production by the end of the year. Also, it’s in everyone’s best interest to have negotiations finish before 2024, especially the studios. This article is written by someone who does not understand the dynamics of production, and we believe anything that a “source” tells them.

  7. Mark Mcguire Avatar
    Mark Mcguire

    The studios are blood thirsty vampires. Their greed is insatiable. They would rather people starve, and families lose their homes than reach a reasonable deal with the unions. It’s a sad world we live in.

  8. Norman Chretien Avatar
    Norman Chretien

    All of this comes from the way parents raise the children who create the paths in which we walk on.
    Chose the right path CEO’s

  9. Jonathan Thomas Avatar
    Jonathan Thomas

    Fran is messing this all up. She loves the publicity. She is taking selfies on ZOOM calls with lead actors and they are appalled by her behavior. 

    1. Franny Dresch Avatar
      Franny Dresch

      Carol get off the message board and back to the negotiation table!

    2. Debs Avatar

      So true! Fran is in it for herself and herself only.

      1. test Avatar

        no she isnt. even if she was, are people supposed to be siding with multinational media conglomerates that are mass harbingers of income inequality and are unable or unwilling to do their job and get a done deal?

        1. Sonya Avatar

          Next President needs to be a negotiator who is a numbers person.

    3. MJ Avatar

      LOL! Found the AMPTP employee and/or bootlicker!
      Fran is doing what the failed leadership before her couldn’t do. She’s not rolling over and taking below what we deserve. Gabby only cared about the producers. Terrible president.

      1. ANON Avatar

        87% of actors in the union earn less than $26,470 a year. That means 87% of the guild members have other jobs, and acting is just a hobby/side gig work. It’s not their main source of income. However for us IATSE, teamsters, etc union members this is our livelihood. SAG needs to be realistic with their demands. 

  10. Sue Mengers Avatar
    Sue Mengers

    Studios are ALREADY not starting anything *new* until 2024. That’s a no-brainer – bigger studio projects NEVER start shooting new projects in November or December unless there is a major driving force (e.g. hard actor avail) behind it. Whoever is reading this as a threat is extrapolating too far – and potentially trying to create an even more emotionally heated situation than it already is.

    1. martyeli Avatar

      Well said!

  11. Sam Avatar

    Studios:  Re. VHS… “We don’t fully understand the market or the possible proceeds and must WAIT to pay until we comprehend the revenues.”  
    Re. DVD….”We don’t fully understand the market or the possible proceeds and must WAIT to pay until we comprehend the revenues”.  
    Re.  STREAMING… “We do not understand the market or the possible proceeds and must WAIT to pay until we comprehend the revenues.”
    It’s executive speak for F-off.  Same song and dance, just a different medium and year.

  12. Vikki Avatar

    Fran is in it for herself. No one is stopping to think about the electricians, swing drivers, set builders etc and the bottom end of the ladder who’ve not had work for months on end and still have bills to pay. Please Fran and Co stop acting like you care and end this now because some people have bills to pay and children to feed and don’t get to live it up in multin million pound houses

    1. Marcy Avatar

      i’m a dues-paying member of locals 476 and 600, and you’re dead wrong. only 23% of SAG membership make enough to qualify for health insurance, which starts at a yearly income of 23k. they deserve a fair deal, as long as it takes.

      1. Fair deal requires compromise Avatar
        Fair deal requires compromise

        This is simply because there is not enough work for ALL of your members.  Nothing in this coming contract will improve that.  In fact, the contraction we are all experiencing will impact you even more after this strike. No one will ever guarantee you work, especially if you are already having difficulty being cast. 
        I hope that your guild will find a way to get more members health insurance, as this should be a universal right, but please consider the many many thousands of lives that are being bankrupted by this action.  Please accept the inevitable compromise necessary to broker an end to these devastating strikes.  

      2. Union Sam Avatar
        Union Sam

        If you’re not working enough to earn $23k for an entire year of health coverage, then this is not your career, it’s your hobby. 

        I don’t make as much as a scale actor does in a day (and no residuals), and I have to work 400 hours every 6 months to maintain health coverage. 

        I’d love to be in the NFL, but I’m not good enough so I found another career. Just because you WANT to be an actor, if nobody wants to hire you often enough, then time for you to find another job. 

  13. J. Kevin Draves Avatar
    J. Kevin Draves

    Where are the shareholders in this and why aren’t they speaking up?  Is it because they are part of the problem?  The incessant greed?  People. REAL people have lost their savings.  Have accrued immense debt. Are losing their homes. Medical coverage. This is incredibly serious. There are many of us that are collateral damage and no one is discussing us or the fact that we are entirely at the mercy of this pissing contest. Make an agreement and fight again in a few years when we are more prepared to argue against these ridiculous holdouts!!!!   ENOUGH!  

  14. Mark the Wise Avatar
    Mark the Wise

    Well, actually I read this as rather positive. The discussion of streaming fees as the main issue means that all the other issues have been resolved. AI is the most complex issue. I believe that this tactic will work and the strike will be settled within the next week or two.

    1. Ellie Avatar

      Exactly.  Everyone should read the book of UNITED ARTISTS   A film studio created by MARY PICKFORD and her husband DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS  AND CHARLIE CHAPLIN 
      They united and invested their pay checks to buy property and cameras etc. Then unionized all labor n skilled workers. They distributed their own films.
      Think of FRIENDS cast in 1990s united together to go on strike until ALL of them got increased salaries and increased $ all staff on the show! 
      United and supporting each other is successful. Now is the time to do side entrepreneur stuff. Fran went thru SAG strike when on THE NANNY. She created gourmet croutons in the down time. Got it retailed. Kept her finances going. 
      U all can create and group up with others in biz and start a side biz! THAT can b a biz- CREATIVE SIDE GIGS. U broker out gigs! Dog walkers. Alterations. Catering. Put under one local umbrella. Event creators- come up with outside of the box ideas to empty local pet shelters! Solving recruitment probs of police or mental health workers or teachers. Take advantage of the community probs that need to be solved RIGHT NOW while u r on strike! 
      Your creativity is your gold! That is not on strike!  

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    We all need to cancel our subscriptions now!

    1. JR Avatar

      This is the way…

    2. Hawai’i Teamsters996’s Avatar
      Hawai’i Teamsters996’s

      That’s what I am saying!! I think that would make the studio wanna change 

      1. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Hires You Avatar
        You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Hires You

        Har har hardy har har. C’mon, get real.

        Save the fantasy for in front of the camera, ‘Norma Rae’.

        How many of SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 members are subscribing to Netflix and Disney+ to save themselves the expense of going out to the movie theaters?

        The cost of a Netflix and Disney+ subscription is a godsend to the SAG-AFTRA membership who are struggling to get by when you factor in all of the costs associated with going to a movie theater. The price of gas and parking (or the cost of transit if you don’t own a car ), the cost of a babysitter (or the cost of bringing your kids to the theater), the cost of the snacks and beverages that you ( and your significantly expensive others) would consume during the movie.

        And then there’s the inconvenience of making all of the arrangements and dealing with the nuisance of travelling to and from the theater.

        It’s a sure bet that the majority of the SAG-AFTRA members who are calling on their fellow SAG-AFTRA members to cancel their Netflix and Disney+ subscriptions don’t have a subscription to Netflix or Disney+ themselves.

        The percentage of SAG-AFTRA union members who would cancel their Netflix and Disney+ subscription in protest is so tiny that they wouldn’t even be noticed.

  16. Christopher Zizzo Avatar
    Christopher Zizzo

    If a deal is inked this week, no cameras will roll until January at the earliest. No actor will go further than a table read or costume fitting before then. But equipment kits WILL be loaded in, trucks will roll, carpenters will build, electrics & constuction grips will get busy, and the rest of us who will never see a penny of residuals or subscription assessments,  will hopefully salvage what is left of this year with two solid months of paychecks.  The cavalier notion of walking away from the table until January is elitist and over privileged pettiness on both sides.

  17. xoxo gg Avatar

    The streamers could offer 10 cents per subscriber to underwrite SAG-AFTRA Healthcare benefits, lowering the cost of health insurance to all union members.
    Ballpark Netflix at 300M, Disney 150M, Warner 100M, Paramount 75M, Peacock 75M and HULU 50M, that would fund an additional (750M at 10cents) $75M annually, for SAG-AFTRA Healthcare benefits, in perpetuity.

  18. JR Sproull Avatar
    JR Sproull

    Since the 1948 “Paramount Decrees” sunsetted in 2022 (by SDNY and DOJ rulings), letting major studios own exhibition theaters again, are the non-streamer studios in AMPTP trying to bankrupt the independent exhibitors so they can swoop in and buy their theaters up cheap?

    If no deal gets made this week, I’m going to surmise that’s a “yes.”

    Just asking — maybe only rhetorically — because if this were pre-2022 we might have seen Sony and other studios make their own deals separate from AMPTP with SAG-AFTRA.

    Antitrust enforcement seems a 21st century joke no matter which party is in D.C. power beholden to big tech/big corporations. Labor enforcement not much better.

    Best wishes to the actors, crew and related workers who want to keep making the art we love to see on screens in theaters and at home.

  19. Administrasi Bisnis Avatar

    How frequently is TheWrap updated with new articles, and is there a specific schedule for publishing content?

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