Hollywood actors’ SAG-AFTRA union is set to strike for the first time since 1980. Actors and writers haven’t picketed together since 1960.
Your favorite Hollywood actors may be about to join writers on the picket line.
SAG-AFTRA, the union representing more than 160,000 film and television actors, could vote to strike as soon as Thursday after talks stalled with Hollywood studios. A three-year contract expired on June 30, but an extension allowed negotiations to continue. It would be actors’ first major strike since 1980.
Similar to demands from the Writers Guild of America, which has been on strike since May 2, actors are looking for more pay, increased residual royalties from streaming services, and safeguards to ensure artificial intelligence doesn’t replace their work, among other provisions. The actors’ resolve seems strong after the union sent a letter in late June to SAG leadership, signed by more than 1,000 actors including Meryl Streep, Constance Wu, Jennifer Lawrence, and Ben Stiller. The letter indicated they’re ready to strike and that the current moment represented an inflection point in the industry with the union’s power waning over the last decade. The Directors Guild of America signed a new contract late last month.
“The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said. “Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal.”
Filming and production on thousands of projects has already come to a halt. Hit TV series like Euphoria have had to delay or postpone premiere dates, with the HBO smash hit’s third season reportedly on hold until 2026. Actors and writers haven’t gone on strike at the same time since 1960, when Ronald Reagan was SAG president.
The proliferation of streaming services has cut into Hollywood’s bottom lines in recent years, with fewer people watching linear and cable TV, and box office returns for movies not as reliable as in the past. As the economics shift in Hollywood for studios, actors, and writers alike, we could be in for an epic showdown. Perhaps one worthy of an eventual film in its own right.
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