No Direct Talks Monday Between SAG-AFTRA & Studios; Negotiations “In The Final Stretch” As Deal Looks Close – Update

UPDATED, 11:08 PM: After a busy weekend of negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP to close a new three-year contract, the striking actors union and the studios are stepping back for a day.

In a missive sent to members earlier Sunday and obtained by Deadline, the Fran Drescher-led SAG-AFTRA said: “Over the course of the weekend, we have discussed all open proposals, including AI, with the AMPTP.” The TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee of the 160,000-strong union went on to say, “Both parties will be working independently Monday and re-engage on scheduling at the end of the day. Join us and flood picket lines in the morning. Make your voices heard.”

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At present, SAG-AFTRA has a full week of pickets set in Los Angeles and New York City at all the major studios.

As well as bargaining over the role of AI in the industry, the two sides are said to still be seeking common ground over additional compensation from streaming shows. The AMPTP was publicly quiet today about what went down in the two days of talks, and what may come next.

PREVIOUSLY, 3:53 PM EXCLUSIVE: SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP continued to communicate intermittently Sunday as they close in on possibly reaching a new deal that could end the 108-day strike.

“There is a feeling of optimism” a guild source told Deadline today. “Looks like we’re in the final stretch,” a senior studio source added.

Both sides expressed confidence a deal may be reached within days, but as before cautioned the situation is still fluid.

From our understanding, SAG-AFTRA and the studios have gained “significant” traction on bridging their gap over what has been termed as success-based compensation for streaming shows and their casts.

Neither SAG-AFTRA or the AMPTP responded to request for comment on today’s talks.

Negotiation teams on both sides –SAG-AFTRA Chief Negotiator and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and AMPTP President Carol Lombardini–virtually spoke several times throughout the day. Like yesterday, the studio’s CEO gang of four–Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix‘s Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley — were not present on today’s zoom calls.

There’s been an attitude shift in the air among studios who went into the weekend “underwhelmed” by the guild’s proposal on Friday to being more upbeat as both sides see potential common ground heading into this week.

“There is still a list to work through,” one insider with knowledge told us about SAG-AFTRA’s intent to hammer down fair streaming revenue residuals for the 160,000-strong union as well as performers’ likeness rights protected in regards to studios’ use of AI. The most challenging point of the current deal to be hammered down are both sides’ agreeing on streaming revenue monies for actors.

Talks restarted on Oct. 24 after the studios suspended them for 12 days, with the majors offering a rise in minimum rates and increased bonuses based on the success of streaming content. Working off their WGA deal, the studios proposed a 7% increase in minimums, with SAG-AFTRA offering on Friday a self-described “comprehensive counter” moving from an 11% rise to 9%. The studio’s success-based metric was in response to SAG-AFTRA’s ask for a 57 cents per subscriber annual charge on Oct. 11 which Sarandos called a “levy on subscribers” and “a bridge too far”.

With three big movies worth $1.5 billion in global box office alone moving off the 2024 calendar —Mission Impossible 8 and Disney’s Snow White and Pixar’s Elio –the studios are sweating when it comes to restartin global feature and TV production, even though they’ve just inked a contract with WGA and scribes are already at work. Exhibition, which weathered losses and racked up immense debt during the pandemic, are fearful of their survival next year as the release calendar ceases to be consistent with tentpoles. Summer’s big starter title, Marvel Studios’ Deadpool 3, is 50% complete and won’t make its first weekend of May release date. The hope was for the Ryan Reynolds-Hugh Jackman movie to resume filming in January, although with each day of the strike, that goal, as well as a new TV season, remain in limbo. Once the strike quells, there will be a jockeying for actors between TV and feature projects. It would not be surprising to see if some fall away from their feature commitments as their TV series could be in first position. With Wall Street having long predicted a recession, studios are hoping to course correct the $6.5 billion economic loss to the state of California from double strikes.

Last Thursday night, several prolific performers including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jon Hamm, Sarah Paulson, Chelsea Handler, Christian Slater told the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee that they’re willing to keep picketing until a fair deal is reached. That maneuver from actors ran counter to a zoom call two weeks ago between SAG-AFTRA brass and several awards season contenders, i.e., George Clooney, Emma Stone, Robert De Niro, and Ariana DeBose, who offered the guild $150 million over three years to remove a cap on union dues so that those actors at the bottom of the call sheet would benefit first. SAG-AFTRA leader Fran Drescher thanked Clooney, who led the effort, but said the offer wasn’t legally compatible with the union’s contract and that it “does not impact the contract that we’re striking over whatsoever.”

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