Talks have broken down between Hollywood actors and studios, killing any hopes that the three-month strike by performers would come to an end anytime soon.
The studios announced that they had suspended contract negotiations, saying the gap between the two sides was too great to make continuing worthwhile, despite an offer as good as the one that recently ended the writers’ strike.
The actors union decried their opponents’ “bullying tactics” and said they were wildly mischaracterising their offers.
On October 2, for the first time since the strike began on July 14, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (Sag-Aftra) resumed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents studios, streaming services and production companies in strike talks.
When negotiations resumed with writers last month, their strike ended five days later, but similar progress was not made with the actors union.
The studios walked away from talks after seeing the actors’ most recent proposal on Wednesday.
“It is clear that the gap between the AMPTP and Sag-Aftra is too great, and conversations are no longer moving us in a productive direction,” the AMPTP said in a statement.
The Sag-Aftra proposal would cost companies an additional $800m a year and create “an untenable economic burden,” the statement said.
In a letter to members on Thursday, Sag-Aftra said that figure was overestimated by 60%. The union said its negotiators were “profoundly disappointed” the studios had broken off talks.
“We have negotiated with them in good faith,” the letter read, “despite the fact that last week they presented an offer that was, shockingly, worth less than they proposed before the strike began.”
Actors have been on strike over issues including increases in pay for streaming programming and control of the use of their images generated by artificial intelligence.
The AMPTP insisted its offers had been as generous as the deals that brought an end to the strike by writers and brought a new contract to the directors guild earlier this year.
But the union letter to actors said the companies “refuse to protect performers from being replaced by AI, they refuse to increase your wages to keep up with inflation, and they refuse to share a tiny portion of the immense revenue your work generates for them”.
Members of the Writers Guild of America voted almost unanimously to ratify their new contract on Monday.
Their leaders touted their deal as achieving most of what they had sought when they went on strike nearly five months earlier.
They declared their strike over, and sent writers back to work, on September 26.
Late night talk shows returned to the air within a week, and other shows including Saturday Night Live will soon follow.
But with no actors, production on scripted shows and movies will stay on pause indefinitely.
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