As they seek to end a 114-day actors’ strike, studios said Saturday they have made their “last, best and final” offer to SAG-AFTRA.
The offer includes an enhanced residual bonus for high performing streaming programs. Under the plan, actors who appear in the most-watched shows on each platform will have their standard streaming residual doubled.
That’s more than the contract awarded to the Writers Guild of America, which won a 50% residual bonus for writers on top-performing shows.
The package includes comprehensive safeguards on artificial intelligence and minimum increases over 40 years.
The Zoom meeting included eight executives from seven studios: Disney’s Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslau, NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Paramount’s Brian Robbins, Amazon’s Mike Hopkins and Jen Salke, and Sony’s Tony Vinciguerra.
At the meeting, Sarandos tried to drive home to union leaders that the offer was generous.
“We’re not coming at you,” he told them, according to a source. “We came all the way to you.”
The relatively brief meeting came a day after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers spelled out the terms of their “comprehensive” offer to the union.
SAG-AFTRA leaders advised on Saturday that they would need more time to analyze and respond to the offer. Union leadership was expected to flex among themselves on Saturday, then advise studios on next steps.
On the studio side, there was some disbelief and frustration with SAG-AFTRA leadership, who saw the talks as unnecessarily drawn out.
However, the union insisted that many of the issues on the table were “existential” for the actors.
In an email to members at 3pm on Saturday, the union advised that the studios had made their “last, best and final” offer.
“We are reviewing it and considering our response in the context of the important issues raised in our proposals,” the union said. “As always, unless it comes from your union, please do not believe any outside sources or rumours.”
By invoking the words “last, best and final,” the studios are trying to convey that they won’t take any action. In a typical negotiation, that language would signal that the union’s only alternative is a strike. However, in this case, SAG-AFTRA has already been on strike since July 14th.
The two sides have been engaged in continuous talks for the last 12 days to bring this to an end.
The studios have made it clear they want to end the strike as quickly as possible. Given the time pressures of the production schedule, they have warned that without a deal they may have to cancel TV shows and delay further theatrical releases.
Artificial intelligence is one of the most difficult problems to solve. The union said it wanted some safeguards against the creation of “digital doubles,” and it appears the studio’s latest offer still falls short.
It remains unclear whether a deal can be reached this weekend.
Negotiators have spent much of the past week hammering out many of the finer points on the AI issue, including the scope of approvals required for AI use. The issue is particularly important for background actors, many of whom fear being replaced by digital versions of themselves in the first place.
Around the industry, there is widespread belief that the strike is in its final days – even if it has exceeded most expectations.
SAG-AFTRA reminded members in an email Saturday of the picket schedule for the coming week, noting there would be no picketing Friday because of Veterans Day. The union also advised members to pick up collectable strike buttons at each studio lot.
This story has been updated with details of the meeting.