For the first time in over 60 years, Hollywood has effectively shut down with the Screen Actors Guild joining in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America in a strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
“If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines,” said SAG-AFTRA President, Fran Drescher, in her most recent press conference regarding the collaborative strike.
Since May 2, 2023, the WGA, with its 11,000 screenwriters, has been actively striking against the AMPTP, as they attempt to secure better pay and more job security, ensuring that production companies must have a certain number of staffed writers at all times.
The Screen Actors Guild joining the strike leaves an unknown future for studios across Hollywood and around the world. SAG-AFTRA is, by far, the largest actor’s union in Hollywood, representing over 160,000 actors working in both film and television. Similar to the Writer’s Guild of America, the actor’s union is potentially risking their jobs by demanding fair pay and security from artificial intelligence. Both unions are also looking for more clarity regarding residuals from streaming services, which have strongly favored the studio system.
Actors in major pictures have already joined the action. Notably, the entire cast of Oppenheimer walked out of the United Kingdom premiere of the film. During the walk-out, director Christopher Nolan announced that the team has left to “Go write their pickets” in unity with SAG-AFTRA.
The AMPTP argued in a statement that they “presented a deal that offered historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses.”
With both unions fighting together for their issues, and the AMPTP seemingly unwilling to budge, it does not appear that either side will come to an agreement anytime soon. As for now, however, Hollywood and other studios throughout the world are left at a standstill.