‘We did it!!!!’: Hollywood actors reach deal with studios to end strike

Months of industrial action have crippled the entertainment industry, halting hundreds of films and television shows.

Hollywood actors at a picket outside Paramount Studios. They are shouting and punching the air. Some are holding placards.
SAG-AFTRA members and supporters maintained their picket as negotiators pushed for a deal outside Paramount Studios [Robyn Beck/AFP]

Hollywood actors have reached a tentative agreement with major studios to end a months-long strike that has halted the production of hundreds of films and television shows.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) said on Wednesday that its strike would end at midnight (08:00 GMT on Thursday) after negotiators reached a preliminary deal on a new contract.

The union said the new three-year contract was valued at more than $1bn and included increases in minimum salaries as well as a new “streaming participation”. The deal would enable members “to build sustainable careers”, it added.

The group’s national board will consider the agreement on Friday, and the union said it would release further details after the meeting.

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher, who made her name in the hit comedy The Nanny, took to social media to celebrate the outcome.

“We did it!!!!” she wrote on Instagram, thanking members for persevering. “The Billion+ $ Deal! 3X the last contract! New ground was broke[n] everywhere!”

Members of SAG-AFTRA walked off the job in mid-July asking for an increase in minimum salaries, a share of streaming service revenue and protection from being replaced by “digital replicas” generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

The union’s negotiators reached the preliminary deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents media companies including Netflix, Paramount and Walt Disney.

The AMPTM said the deal represented “a new paradigm” that gave the union its “biggest contract-on-contract gains” in its history. It also highlighted a “brand new residual for streaming programs”, without offering details. Residuals are long-term payments for shows after their initial release.

Union negotiators celebrate their preliminary deal with studios. They're in a conference room and are holding a golden cone.
Union team captains Romel De Silva and Brendan A Bradley pose with a symbolic cone as they celebrate the tentative agreement [Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]

The breakthrough means Hollywood can ramp up to full production for the first time since May, once union members vote to ratify the deal in the coming weeks.

The news spread rapidly across Hollywood, with celebrities expressing joy and relief.

“Incredible! I’m so happy we were all able to come to an agreement. Let’s get back to work! Let’s go! I’m so stoked,” actor Zac Efron told reporters at a premiere of The Iron Claw.

“PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF!” wrote Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis on Instagram.

SAG-AFTRA represents some 160,000 performers.

While Hollywood’s top stars earn millions, many less well-known actors said it had become almost impossible to earn a decent living in recent years, as longstanding pay structures failed to keep pace with inflation and the rise of streaming services.

When SAG-AFTRA walked out in mid-July, Hollywood writers were also on strike.

It was the first time that the two unions had headed to the picket lines simultaneously since 1960 when actor (and future US president) Ronald Reagan led the protests.

The writers’ union resolved their dispute in late September, saying they had secured “meaningful gains and protections for writers”.

The industrial action forced studios to delay the release of big-budget films, including Dune: Part Two and the next instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, while broadcasters were forced to fill their schedules with re-runs, game shows and reality programming.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies