On Wednesday, Hollywood’s major film and television studios and the union representing 160,000 performers were in last-ditch discussions ahead of a midnight deadline to avoid a second labor strike in the entertainment industry.

SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood’s largest organization, is requesting increased pay in the streaming TV era, as well as protections regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Members have authorized a strike if negotiators are unable to reach an agreement, and A-list actresses like as Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep have stated their willingness to walk off the job.

They would join approximately 11,500 Writers Guild of America (WGA) members who went on strike in early May. That strike resulted in continuous replays of late-night television chat shows, as well as a halt to most autumn TV production and the filming of some big-budget movies.

A SAG-AFTRA strike would compel more sets to close, increasing the pressure on studios to reach an agreement.

“Everyone is tense and hoping that the answer is correct,” said star Florence Pugh during a promotional event for the upcoming film “Oppenheimer” in London.

SAG-AFTRA negotiators agreed late Tuesday to a studio request for a federal mediator. However, the union claimed that studio representatives had “abused our trust” by leaking information to the media and that it would not move from the Wednesday night deadline.

RELATED: After Contract Negotiations Fail, Hollywood Writers Go On Strike

Hollywood hasn’t had a twin strike since 1960, when members of the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild went on strike over residuals from films sold to television networks.

“You have to make $26,000 a year to qualify for your health insurance, and there are a lot of people who get across that threshold through their residual payments,” actor Matt Damon stated at the “Oppenheimer” event.

“Money is being made, and it needs to be allocated in a way that helps people on the margins.”

Unions are currently suing Netflix (NFLX.O), Walt Disney (DIS.N), and other firms over base pay and residuals from streaming services, as well as other problems such as the usage of generative AI. Actors seek guarantees that their digital photographs would not be exploited without their consent.

Negotiations were taking place at a tough moment for media corporations, which had spent billions of dollars on programming in an attempt to entice new streaming users.

In the most recent quarter, Disney, Comcast Corp’s (CMCSA.O) NBCUniversal, and Paramount Global (PARA.O) all lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to streaming. At the same time, as traditional TV viewership dwindle, the rise of online video has undermined television ad revenue.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios in negotiations, has declined to comment on its discussions with SAG-AFTRA.

The AMPTP stated that it had given “generous” pay increases to the writers but could not agree to all of their demands. Since the writers’ strike began on May 2, the studios and the WGA have not met.

Lisa Richwine contributed reporting, and Marie Louise in London assisted with editing.


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