Hollywood actors and major studios reached an agreement on Wednesday, November 8 to end the strike which has paralyzed the production of films and series in the United States for many months and has cost the American economy billions. announced the actors union SAG-AFTRA.
“The strike will officially end on Thursday, November 9 at 12:01 a.m. Los Angeles time,” the organization explained in a statement. An “agreement in principle” was reached after 118 days of strike by the actors, who demanded better remuneration in an industry disrupted by the advent of streaming and safeguards in terms of artificial intelligence. The exact content of the agreement has not yet been revealed, but “further information will be communicated” on Friday, the union said. For big stars and extras to return to the set and allow filming to resume, the 160,000 actors, dancers and other stunt members of SAG-AFTRA must still approve their new collective agreement by a vote. A step widely seen as a formality.
Big names in Hollywood celebrated the end of the strike. “Perseverance pays!” exclaimed Jamie Lee Curtis on Instagram. “I'm very happy that we all came to an agreement,” greeted Zac Efron from the red carpet of the premiere of the film Iron Claw. “Let’s get back to work, let’s go, I’m so happy.”
Negotiations with employers have taken place almost daily over the past two weeks, often with the CEOs of Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros, and Universal in person around the table. Because the need to put an end to this social movement was becoming more and more pressing. Besides a minority of big celebrities, most actors without filming found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet - some fell back on other jobs. The studios had gaping holes in their release schedules for next year and beyond.
After the postponement of major productions, such as the second part of the Dune saga or the Stranger Things series, the studios will now want to return to work as quickly as possible. The sector has just gone through a double historic social movement: when the actors went on strike in mid-July, the screenwriters had already stopped work since the beginning of May. Hollywood has not experienced such a crisis since 1960, when Ronald Reagan headed the actors' union - before becoming president of the United States. In total, the paralysis of the sector in recent months has cost at least $6 billion, according to recent estimates by economists.
Actors and screenwriters shared an observation: apart from star actors and star “showrunners”, most of them were no longer able to earn a decent living in the era of streaming. Not only because the platforms produce series with far fewer episodes per season than on television, but also because Netflix and others have drastically reduced the revenues due to each rebroadcast of films and series. Unlike television, where a rebroadcast can be paid for through the advertising model based on audience figures, a streamed work was subject to a flat rate payment, regardless of the popularity of the program.
The studios finally reached an agreement with the writers at the end of September and most of them have since returned to work. But despite this progress, negotiations with the stakeholders have dragged on. To break the deadlock, the two parties have found, according to the specialist press, a compromise on the minimum wage, which should increase by around 8% compared to the previous three-year agreement: this is the largest increase in decades, even if it remains below the initial demands of the actors. On the streaming side, a bonus system for actors playing in successful series or films will be put in place.
The supervision of artificial intelligence (AI) was another major point of tension, particularly in the home stretch of the negotiations. Actors feared that studios would use this technology to clone their voices and images for reuse in perpetuity without compensation or consent. The studios had made proposals in this area, but the actors' union believed that these measures did not go far enough. In recent days, the two parties have notably fought over the conditions surrounding the studios' rights to the image of star actors after their death.