UPDATED: The studios told SAG-AFTRA on Saturday that they have made their “last, best and final” offer, as they seek an end to the 114-day actors strike.
The offer includes an enhanced residual bonus for high-performing streaming shows. Under the proposal, actors who appear on the most-watched shows on each platform will see their standard streaming residual doubled.
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That is an increase over the deal provided to the Writers Guild of America, which won a 50% residual bonus for writers on top-performing shows.
The package also includes comprehensive protections on artificial intelligence and the highest increase in minimums in 40 years.
The Zoom meeting included eight leaders from seven studios: Bob Iger of Disney, David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Donna Langley of NBCUniversal, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, Brian Robbins of Paramount, Mike Hopkins and Jennifer Salke from Amazon, and Tony Vinciquerra from Sony Pictures Entertainment. Other senior executives who have been involved in union negotiations over the past five months such as Disney’s Dana Walden and Alan Bergman were also on the call.
In the meeting, Sarandos sought to bring home to the union leaders that the offer is generous.
“We didn’t just come toward 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. The union leadership was expected to huddle amongst themselves later on Saturday, and would then advise the studios on next steps.
On the studio side, there remained some pessimism and frustration with SAG-AFTRA leadership, whom they saw as dragging out the talks unnecessarily. The studios sought to send a clear message with the show of executive force and the decision to call it a “last, best and final”: the employers are aligned on these terms, and the time has come to bring an end to negotiations.
The AMPTP did not set a formal deadline for SAG-AFTRA to deliver a response. A source with first-hand knowledge suggested there is a strong chance that SAG-AFTRA negotiators will meet again Sunday with the AMPTP’s Carol Lombardini and others if union negotiators seek more clarity on key points.
In its communications to members, the union has emphasized that many of the issues on the table are “existential” for actors.
In an email to members at 3 p.m. Saturday, the union advised that the studios had made their “last, best and final” offer.
“We are reviewing it and considering our response within the context of the critical issues addressed in our proposals,” the union said. “As always, unless it comes from your union, please do not believe any outside sources or rumors.”
By invoking the words “last, best and final,” the studios are seeking to convey that they will make no further moves. In a typical negotiation, that language would signal that the union’s only alternative would be to strike. In this case, however, SAG-AFTRA has already been on strike since July 14.
The two sides have engaged in continuous negotiations over the last 12 days to try to bring it to an end.
The studios have made clear that they want to wrap the strike up as quickly as possible. Given the time pressures of the production schedule, they have warned that without a deal in the near term they may have to cancel TV shows and delay more theatrical releases.
Artificial intelligence remains among the most difficult issues to resolve. The union has communicated that it must have certain protections against the creation of “digital doubles,” and it appears the studios’ latest offer still does not quite get there.
It remains unclear whether a deal can be reached this weekend.
The negotiators have spent much of the last week ironing out many fine points on the AI issue, including the scope of consents required for AI use. The issue is of particular significance to background actors, many of whom fear they will be the first to be replaced by digital versions of themselves.
Around the industry, there has been widespread optimism that the strike is in its closing days — even as it has endured well past most expectations.
SAG-AFTRA reminded members in an email on Saturday of the picketing schedule for the coming week, noting that there will be no picketing on Friday due to Veterans Day. The union also advised members that they can pick up collectible strike buttons at each of the studio lots.
This story has been updated with details of the meeting.
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.
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