The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) have gone on strike together for the first time since 1960.
The Hollywood actors union joined the WGA in taking strike action on July 13, after negotiations broke down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), who represent major studios like Netflix, Disney, Apple, Amazon, Warner Bros. and others.
Both unions are seeking better pay, streaming residuals and safeguards against the use of AI technology amid the rise of streaming services.
The strikes look set to have a major impact on the release calendar of upcoming TV shows and films, with many shutting down production in solidarity.
Screen Actors Guild national executive director, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, recently said the strike could last until the early months of 2024.
“I wouldn’t rule out January or February,” Crabtree-Ireland told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Everyone should be working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen, but the only way that doesn’t happen is by finding a path to a fair deal.
“And we’re not going to compromise on the core principles of fairness that our employers fight for.”
Since communication between the Screen Actors Guild and AMPTP broke down on July 13, Crabtree-Ireland, who was part of the negotiations, said the two parties have had no formal communication since (July 22).
“I did send a letter to the AMPTP formally advising them of the strike but other than that, there has been no communication directly between us,” he added. “Of course, there’s always back channels, but that hasn’t worked so far.”
In a blog post, Game Of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin expressed concern that this latest strike could be “long and bitter”.
“I joined the WGA in 1986 and have been through several strikes with them,” Martin wrote. “We made gains in all of them, but some issues are more important than others… and this strike is the most important of my lifetime.”
He added: “No one can be certain where we go from here, but I have a bad feeling that this strike will be long and bitter. It may get as bad as the infamous 1985 strike, though I hope not.”
In response to the actors’ strike, the AMPTP said: “This is the union’s choice, not ours. In doing so, it has dismissed our offer of historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses, and more.”