Tens of thousands of A-list actors, including Matt Damon, Meryl Streep, and Jennifer Lawrence, are going on strike, shutting down Hollywood as they join forces with writers in the first industry-wide walkout for 63 years.
“Tinsel Town” is in trouble as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Sag-Aftra) officially announced a strike, joining the ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA).
The combined protest, beginning on Friday, mark a significant standoff between Hollywood workers and studio executives regarding wages, AI technology, and the fair division of profits in the digital streaming era.
With Sag-Aftra’s 160,000 members joining the 11,500 members of the WGA, this marks the first time in 63 years that Hollywood writers and actors are striking in unison.
The impact of the strikes is expected to halt the majority of film and TV production in Hollywood and have far-reaching consequences.
Press junkets for upcoming movie premieres will be canceled, and the Emmy awards may face postponement. Many workers across Los Angeles are preparing to navigate weeks or even months without wages.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing studios, expressed deep disappointment over Sag-Aftra’s decision to walk away from negotiations. The AMPTP criticized the strike, claiming it would worsen the financial hardship for thousands of industry workers.
Sag-Aftra and the WGA have been advocating for increases in base pay and residuals to account for the transition to online streaming platforms. They also seek assurances that their work will not be replaced by artificial intelligence or their digital image used without consent.
The studios claimed to have made substantial offers, including the highest percentage increases in minimum pay levels in 35 years, increased pension and healthcare contribution caps, a significant boost in foreign residuals from streaming shows, and a groundbreaking proposal on artificial intelligence.
Despite weeks of negotiations, Sag-Aftra and the studios failed to reach an agreement by the Wednesday deadline.
Fran Drescher, the president of Sag-Aftra, emphasized the need to stand tall in the face of the changing business model and called on studio executives to recognize the significance of the moment.
The strike is not limited to US-based productions but is also expected to impact overseas shoots involving union members. The immediate repercussions include disruptions to publicity efforts for summer’s top films, potential delays to the Emmy awards, and the effect on events like San Diego Comic-Con.
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