Writers picket in front of Netflix on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, as the Writers Guild of America strikes on May 2, 2023.
Frederick J Brown | Afp | Getty Images
Hollywood producers have a tentative deal with movie and TV directors, but that doesn’t mean we should expect surprising writers’ strike decisions or talks with the actors’ union.
On Sunday, the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance provisionally agreed to a three-year contract that would provide the 19,000-member union with pay and benefit gains, increased global broadcast residuals and protections against the use of artificial intelligence.
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The DGA contract is set to expire on June 30. The union will present the proposal to its members on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America is entering the second month of its strike. Likewise, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are on the verge of authorizing a possible strike should negotiations falter. Those talks begin on Wednesday.
The WGA has been on strike since May 2, shutting down dozens of TV and film productions as talks with producers stall.
actually Netflix The start of production for the fifth and final season of Stranger Things has been postponed. Warner Bros. discovery “Game of Thrones” prequel “Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: Night of the Hedge” locked her writers’ room, and Disney And Marvel’s Thunderbolts and Blade films have paused production.
During the recent writers’ strike in 2007 and 2008, which lasted 100 days, the studio’s deal with the DGA pushed writers back to the negotiating table. That may not be the case this time around, though.
“We congratulate the DGA Negotiation Committee for obtaining a deal that they will recommend to their National Council for approval and which they will then presumably send to their members for ratification,” the WGA Negotiation Committee wrote in a note to members on Sunday.
The committee said it would not comment on the deal points of the new DGA contract and noted that its negotiating positions remain the same.
“Last week we sent out an email about how AMPTP’s divide-and-conquer strategy didn’t work this time,” the memo read. “AMPTP will not be able to negotiate a book deal with anyone but us.”
The committee also said it stands in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA during the completion of the strike vote on Monday.
Representatives for SAG-AFTRA did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The WGA memo mirrors comments made by WGA negotiator Chris Keyser on Friday, when he provided a public update a month after the strike via YouTube.
“Any agreement that puts this city back in business goes directly through the WGA, and there’s no way around that,” he said.
Keyser also expressed that the WGA strike was indeed “extremely effective in harming businesses”, noting that the work stoppage, along with the public picketing, demonstrated the union’s determination to get “the contract we deserve”.
In the DGA agreement, managers received pay increases starting at 5% in the first year, an increase in tailings from the flow and a guarantee that AI could not replace the duties performed by members.
Artificial intelligence has been a major concern for writers’ and actors’ unions, who see their jobs as particularly vulnerable to this new technology.
The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are both seeking protection against the use of artificial intelligence in their negotiations, as well as increased compensation for streaming content. The WGA is also seeking minimum staff for television writers’ rooms and more competitive minimum payments for the work.
WGA is less concerned about being replaced by AI systems and more concerned that production companies will exploit these technological tools to cut writers’ salaries.
SAG-AFTRA has acknowledged that AI technology can have its benefits in the industry, but wants to ensure that any use of AI to duplicate an actor or create a new performance is done with the consent and payment of the actor. The Syndicate has similar guardrails when it comes to taking computer-generated images.
Indeed, some performers, such as James Earl Jones, have already agreed to have their voices reproduced for posthumous use. Jones, 91, voiced Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise and has sought to exit the role. Jones was compensated and technology was used to bring Vader’s iconic voice to Disney+’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
The Actors Guild has also been vocal about its negotiations for the benefit of all of its members, not just the big stars. Health coverage, compensation and waste are top priorities for tens of thousands of workers.
SAG-AFTRA’s vote for permission to strike ends Monday at 8 p.m. ET.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is a member of the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance.