EXCLUSIVE: There’s real movement in talks between SAG-AFTRA and the studios for a new three-year contract,
No deal yet, but a framework is in place for a potential agreement, we hear.
Back in negotiations Wednesday on day 111 of the actors strike, the two sides “are moving closer and closer” to a deal, a SAG-AFTRA source says. Whether that leads to a tentative agreement in the next few days or next week remains to be seen, but a more “upbeat” mood is now pervading the virtual talks – “for what that’s worth,” an industry insider close to negotiations said.
“We’re beyond cautious optimism now, I’d say,” the source added, with a swipe at the term that has been echoing out of the talks the past few days.
SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and AMTP president Carol Lombardini were in the driver’s seats once again today, with smaller specialized teams drilling into the details. As such, the parties appear to taking at least some of the sting out of the thorny topics of AI and what has been termed “success-based compensation” for casts of hit streaming shows and movies.
“There’s a let’s-get-this-done attitude in the room,” a studio-side source said about the bullish vibe of today’s talks that did not include the CEO Gang of Four of NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Disney’s Bob Iger, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos. Another source added, “I know the big issues are going well, but they continue to be going over AI wording,” and “it’s going to take a few days.”
Today’s deliberations went into the late afternoon, with the parties anticipating further talks tomorrow, November 2.
This latest state of affairs comes on the heels of a multi-union Unity Picket rally outside Disney earlier in the day and the announcement Disney will be buying out Comcast’s remaining 33% stake in Hulu for at $8.61 billion and counting.
As has been the case for much of the past several days, neither SAG-AFTRA nor the AMPTP replied to Deadline’s request for comment on today’s talks, If and when they do, we will update this post.
In further hope that talks were moving in the right direction, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said Wednesday in a video posted on social media: “I just want you to know that I feel a sense of strength, not anger, and I feel a sense of optimism, not negativity.”
Even with that optimism, the pain the industry is feeling from more than six months of strikes is weighing heavy on both sides’ minds, we hear.
The now-settled WGA strike and ongoing SAG-AFTRA action has cost California an estimated $6.5 billion and 45,000 entertainment jobs lost. Many below-the-line TV and film workers’ savings are being wiped out or are seeing their homes in jeopardy after already weathering a global pandemic that also shuttered global production.
Still, with the WGA strike over in late September, some studios have crews at the ready to restart productions on titles that have been paused, i.e., Gladiator 2 and Beetlejuice, in hopes the actors will be back at work soon.
Also hanging in limbo is the fate of several awards-season films, with stars over the past several months unable to trumpet their wares at film festivals and receptions around New York City and Los Angeles.
Once stars such as Emma Stone (Poor Things), Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers), George Clooney (The Boys in the Boat), and Rosamund Pike and Barry Keoghan (Saltburn) become available, many expect the upcoming Oscar season to take a brighter hue. Filmmakers such as Emerald Fennell (Saltburn), Alexander Payne (The Holdovers) and Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon) have been doing the heavy lifting to get the buzz out there on their movies, but also open them as well; the latter Apple-Paramount title opened to a solid $23 million-plus stateside in a box office marketplace that has been muted by the lack of actors promoting their films. A24, which isn’t a member of AMPTP, has seen several of its movies such as Pricilla, Iron Claw, and Dream Scenario land SAG-AFTRA interim agreements, allowing its casts to publicize pics at fests and screenings.
Big Hollywood premieres, which can create wattage on social media before a film’s opening, also are longing for an end to the actors strike. The new Hunger Games prequel has a SAG-AFTRA interim deal due to the fact that Lionsgate isn’t a member of AMPTP, allowing its cast to promote. However, Disney/Marvel Studios’ The Marvels, Warner Bros’ Wonka and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom are hoping it will have casts in full attendance at their respective fan events in the coming weeks if a deal can be made.
Carol Dennis is an entertainment aficionado with an eye for all things pop culture. She dives into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, from movie premieres to music festivals. Carol’s passion for storytelling extends beyond her reporting, as she’s an aspiring screenwriter in her free time.