The actors’ union and the studios’ association have agreed to continue their negotiations over a new three-year contract after wrapping up their second day of talks on Wednesday. The parties said in a joint statement that they will meet again on Friday, October 6, and resume on Monday, October 9, after working internally over the weekend.
The actors’ strike, which began on July 14, has been the longest in Hollywood history, affecting thousands of productions across film, TV, and streaming platforms. SAG-AFTRA is demanding better pay, residuals, and protections for its members, especially in the areas of streaming, animation, and generative AI.
Top Executives Join the Bargaining Table
The latest round of talks has seen the involvement of some of the industry’s most powerful executives, who joined the AMPTP’s chief negotiator Carol Lombardini and SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland at the union’s headquarters in Los Angeles.
Among them were Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and NBCUniversal Studio Group chairman and chief content officer Donna Langley. Their presence was seen as a sign of goodwill and urgency to resolve the impasse.
An industry insider told Deadline that the talks were going “well” and that everyone was conducting themselves “calmly”. The source added that the parties were still discussing several issues, but did not elaborate on the details.
Generative AI Remains a Contentious Issue
One of the main sticking points in the negotiations has been the use of generative AI to create or alter the performances of actors without their consent or compensation. SAG-AFTRA has argued that this practice violates their members’ intellectual property rights and poses a threat to their livelihoods.
On Wednesday, Crabtree-Ireland addressed the Federal Trade Commission about the dangers of generative AI for creative industries. He said that there was a “double standard” when it came to studios and entertainment companies using AI to exploit actors’ work without paying for licensing rights.
He also urged the FTC to adopt a “comprehensive set of provisions” to protect human-created work and require informed consent and fair compensation when a “digital replica” is made of a performer or when their voice, likeness, or performance is substantially changed using AI.
The AMPTP has rejected SAG-AFTRA’s proposal of revenue sharing for streaming shows that use generative AI, citing differences over analytics, risks, and business models. The studios have also claimed that generative AI is still an emerging technology that does not warrant contractual changes at this stage.
Actors Remain United and Hopeful
Despite the prolonged strike, SAG-AFTRA members have remained united and hopeful that a fair deal can be reached soon. The union has organized several picket lines across the country, drawing support from other unions such as the WGA, which recently reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after nearly five months on strike.
On Tuesday, SAG-AFTRA posted a video message from Crabtree-Ireland, the TV/theatrical negotiating committee, strike captains, and lot coordinators at the Warner Bros pickets in Burbank. They thanked their fellow members for their solidarity and strength and said they were “SAG-AFTRA strong”.
The union also encouraged its members to vote on a resolution that reaffirms their support for the negotiating committee and authorizes them to call off the strike if they reach a satisfactory deal with the AMPTP. The voting period ends on October 10.