With the SAG-AFTRA strikes entering their fourth week, neither side has promised to make any progress as the disputes threaten to intensify. So what happens if an agreement cannot be reached soon?
Last month, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) announced that its 160,000 members would go on strike, joining the striking WGA members in demanding a fairer distribution of pay and improved working conditions for all its workers from Hollywood’s biggest studios and streaming services.
Overnight, one of the biggest and most revered industries in the world suspended its operations indefinitely. On-screen professionals went home to their friends and families, unsure what would become of their projects and livelihoods as they prepared for the first strikes in Hollywood in over 60 years.
The SAG-AFTRA strikes mean that actors and on-screen professionals cannot work on any major feature films or scripted television series, or engage in any promotion of existing or completed film or TV projects. Penalties for members who continue to work on creative projects include “censure, reprimand, fine, suspension, and/or expulsion.”
“No member shall render any services or make an agreement to perform services for any employer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the union, which is in full force and effect, in any jurisdiction in which there is a SAG-AFTRA national collective bargaining agreement in place.”SAG-AFTRA Global Rule One
According to Reuters, negotiators from WGA met with representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for the first time since the strikes began, but the guild revealed that no agreement had been reached.
It is understood that fresh talks have been scheduled for this week; in a message to its members, Carol Lombardini, AMPTP President said: “[AMPTP] has asked the WGA Negotiating Committee to meet with AMPTP negotiators on Friday. We expect the AMPTP to provide responses to WGA proposals.”
“Our committee returns to the bargaining table ready to make a fair deal, knowing the unified WGA membership stands behind us and buoyed by the ongoing support of our union allies.”
The studios have been forced to act; Disney and Marvel has pushed back the release dates for the reboots of Blade and Fanatastic Four, The Avengers: Secret Wars and Deadpool 3, with their planned Phase 6 projects in jeopardy.
Netflix’s original series Stanger Things is undoubtedly the most notable television show to have been halted, as writers stopped working on the streaming giant’s most-watched show in May when the WGA strikes began.
Notably, A24, the independent film production company behind Midsommar, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Euphoria and more, has been allowed to continue its productions as the company has consistently complied with SAG-AFTRA’s demands.
It is currently not known how long these crippling strikes can continue, but fans eagerly awaiting the release of their favourite shows will hope that the ongoing disputes can be resolved amicably allowing for these professionals to return to work; until then, more titles and series will continue to be suspended or postponed to 2024.
Co-chairs of the WGA’s negotiating committee, Chris Keyser and David A. Goodman, said: “The refusal to take writers’ reasonable proposals seriously has caused the WGA strike to last 100 days and counting; it serves only as a milestone of shame for the AMPTP.”
“They and their member studios are wholly responsible for the over three-month shutdown of the industry and the pain it has caused workers and all others whose livelihoods depends on this business. The cost of settling the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes is far less than the damage their intractability has caused.”
Last month, the 2023 Emmy nominations were announced with HBO shows Succession, The White Lotus and The Last of Us taking leading the picks. It was confirmed however, that this year’s Emmy Awards would be reschedued for the first time in over 20 years due to the strikes.
The coveted award show celebrates the best American and International television every year, but the ceremony has been postponed, with the new date set at 15 January 2024.
It’s unclear whether this is an indication that an agreement could be reached then, as the new date would be The Los Angeles Times previously reported that any new date for the Emmys would be conditional of agreement reached between the striking unions and studios.
“We will not allow you to take away our dignity!”Bryan Cranston
Later this month hoevever, the 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival will go ahead as planned. The famed event is seen by many as a precursor to the Oscars, where directors and movie stars can premiere their films ahead of the biggest award ceremony in cinema.
Although a number of lead titles have been victims of the ongoing disputes; projects such as Challengers starring Zendaya and Bradley Cooper’s passion project Maestro, a biopic about legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, have both been pulled from screening in a show of solidarity with the striking members.
When these strikes will be resolved is still inconclusice, but fresh rounds of negotiations this week could signal whether the studios are willing to meet the demands of WGA And SAG-AFTRA. Until then, Chris Keyser claims the WGA and its members “remain resolved and united,” in their demands.