Things are looking a little less scary for Hollywood this Halloween night.
On the 110th day of the 2023 actors strike, SAG-AFTRA and the Hollywood studios wrapped their latest negotiations session for the holiday as a deal appears to be within reach.
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The two sides broke off in the afternoon after a day that was spent dealing with AI issues and are set to return to the bargaining table on Wednesday. While expressing that talks are headed in the right direction, one studio-side source says it could take a few days to work through remaining issues. Two additional studio-side sources said talks are progressing overall in a substantive way, and that a deal could be imminent. Multiple prominent actors said they have received word that a deal could be at hand soon, as well.
Just one day earlier, on Monday, the union’s negotiating committee telegraphed to members that a new deal — and an end to the strike — might not be immediate. “While talks over the past week have been productive, we remain far apart on key issues,” the committee wrote members. (On the other hand, a studio-side source expressed optimism that day that a deal could be reached soon.) At that point, the two sides still had yet to come to a final agreement on contract language around AI and the actors’ attempt to share in a cut of streaming project revenue.
And in a video message to SAG-AFTRA members on Tuesday, union national executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland emphasized that the union needs to keep working until it is satisfied. “While I’ve said I’m cautiously optimistic, that means we’ve got to keep the pressure on,” he said. “We’ve got to keep on pushing because there are really important pieces of this agreement that are not there yet and they have to come across. AI, for example, has to be right. This deal cannot be done without a fair deal on AI.”
Both sides are facing pressure to reach a new three-year agreement in a timely manner. Studios have expressed to the union that their 2024 film slates will be in jeopardy if a deal is not reached this week. Meanwhile, a group of A-list actors met with representatives for the union and the studios earlier in October in an attempt to move talks along. On Oct. 26, an open letter signed by thousands of SAG-AFTRA members encouraged negotiating leaders not to back down: “We have not come all this way to cave now,” the message stated.
Rebecca Keegan and Kim Masters contributed reporting.
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