A constellation of Hollywood A-listers, including George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone, Ben Affleck, and Tyler Perry, converged in a virtual meeting with representatives of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) on Tuesday. This high-profile assembly transpired in the wake of an abrupt cessation of negotiations by major studios merely six days prior.
The specifics of this hush-hush rendezvous remain undisclosed, with SAG-AFTRA declining to comment on the meeting’s particulars, affirming their routine engagement with members of varying prominence. Similarly, representatives for the prominent actors remained tight-lipped, evading any public statement regarding the gathering.
Conducted over Zoom, this critical interaction materialized on the heels of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ (AMPTP) unilateral decision to terminate negotiations, citing irreconcilable differences concerning a proposed revenue-sharing structure for streaming platforms in their statement on October 11.
This impasse has induced significant strain for all parties involved, resonating across the industry, which continues to grapple with substantial stagnation despite recent settlements with the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America. The ongoing strike initiated by the actors since July has cast a shadow over the television season and imperiled the prospects of successful promotion and release for the eagerly anticipated holiday films.
Notably, the industry’s workforce has voiced their financial distress, having endured months of work hiatus. With the third quarter of 2023 drawing to a close on October 1 and imminent quarterly earnings calls for investors, studios confront an urgent necessity to project optimism amid a protracted period of industry dormancy.
Insights from TheWrap revealed that the discord stemmed from the guild’s proposal of a flat fee of $1 per subscriber, annually, for all streaming services, diverging from their earlier request for a 1% cut from streaming revenue, which the studios adamantly rejected. Despite an expectation of resumed negotiations on October 12, the studio heads leading the talks on behalf of AMPTP dismissed further discussions, labeling the guild’s proposal as “socialist.”
According to SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the decision to abandon talks caught them off guard, given the lack of prior indications of impending deadlock. He clarified that the guild’s altered proposition was an attempt to offer a compromise in the face of the studios’ steadfast refusal to entertain any terms linked to their revenue streams.
While precise details of the recent meeting remained under wraps, Deadline’s initial report alluded to the high-profile participants’ vested interest in SAG-AFTRA’s proposed revenue-sharing blueprint. Described as “extremely supportive,” the actors engaged in the dialogue, providing valuable feedback, suggestions, and inquiries.