The Actors Union of the United States (SAG-AFTRA, in English) announced that its members began an indefinite strike this Thursday due to the lack of agreement with the large film and television studios to sign a new collective agreement.
The failed negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP) represent a veritable earthquake in a Hollywood already stunned after the strike that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has maintained since May. .
These are the ten keys to understanding what is happening in the American audiovisual industry.
1. Technological changes, a source of constant friction
Unions in this sector have gone on strike up to twenty times in the last 90 years and the main reason has almost always been related to technological change. If in the past it was the challenges derived from television, videotapes or DVDs, now it is streaming platforms and AI.
In recent times, the scriptwriters already ceased their activities in 2008, demanding higher compensation for the content they released and then distributed on linear television, which laid the foundations of the current conflict.
2. What are residual rights?
The residual rights (“residuals”, in English) are the additional payments that the big Hollywood studios, and now the giant “streaming” platforms, must pay entertainment professionals every time any of the titles is reissued. in which they have worked.
SAG-AFTRA and WGA demand that, given the “boom” of content on the network, this rate be increased and that it be subject to the actual number of accumulated reproductions.
In fact, during their respective negotiations, the unions proposed that a third independent company be in charge of transparently compiling the data of each series or film in order to find a fair formula.
3. AI, “an existential threat” for the actors’ union
The actors’ union has repeatedly expressed concern about the use of artificial intelligence in the entertainment industry, something they consider a “sea change” and an “existential threat” to their work.
The interpreters demand that their new collective agreement specify a clause in which they are protected against the exploitation of their identity and talent “without consent or compensation.”
4. What is the position of the big studios and platforms?
The large studios and streaming platforms have stressed that they are currently not “profitable” and the saturation of the platform market and the complicated financial situation of conglomerates such as Disney, which plans to cut 7,000 jobs this year, are known to all. .
Even so, this Thursday they specified that before the negotiations ran aground they had proposed a “76% increase in residual rights” to the actors and an “innovative AI that protects the digital images” of the interpreters.
5. The role of trade unions, on the rise
Inflation, stagnant wages, and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic have helped spur unionization across all sectors of the United States.
Although union membership in the private sector has long been in decline, according to a Gallup poll last year, 71% of Americans viewed unions favorably, the highest since 1965.
6. A strike beyond the Guild of Actors and Writers
The interpreters are the visible face of the productions, but the cessation of activities will also affect other professionals in the sector related to makeup, wardrobe or logistics, among many others.
The prolonged strike that the writers sustained in 2007-2008 left an economic impact that exceeded 2,200 million dollars in losses.
7. What movies and series will be affected?
Until now, the projection that the strike may have and how many audiovisual titles currently in filming or in the production process it may harm is unknown.
Of course, the more than two months that the writers’ strike has already covered has put in check series such as “Stranger Things”, “Cobra Kai” or “Abbott Elementary”, as well as well-known films such as “Gladiator 2” and the second part of the new “Mission: Impossible” saga.
8. Is the film awards season in danger?
It will depend on the duration of this simultaneous strike between writers and screenwriters. For now, the Emmys, which announced their nominations this Wednesday, are already considering postponing their 75th edition from September to November or even until January.
This historic change in the awards calendar would have a full impact on the season of film awards, which always have the Oscars as their main course and whose deadline for receiving nominations also closes in November.
9. How long did the last strike last?
The most recent strike by the actors’ union dates from 1980 and then it lasted for three months. Approximately the same duration as the well-known strike of the Writers Guild of America in 2007-2008, which lasted for one hundred days.
10. How to reach a solution?
Although the parties are currently far apart, experts suggest that the resolution of the conflict could come as the economic impact takes its toll on the industry.
Until now, not even the figure of professionals from the Federal Conciliation and Mediation Service has managed to unblock this conflict of interest.