Home Entertainment SAG-AFTRA & Studios Have AI Breakthrough; More Talks Set – Deadline

SAG-AFTRA & Studios Have AI Breakthrough; More Talks Set – Deadline


The lead negotiators for SAG-AFTRA and the studios are set to meet later today in what could be the final phase to sealing a new deal and the end to the 117-day actors guild strike.

With the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA having achieved a breakthrough late last night on the contentious topic of AI, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and AMPTP president Carol Lombardini are scheduled to talk this afternoon. “We are very close,” a guild source told Deadline. “Not done yet, but very close with strong protection language in place,” the source added of AI guardrails long sought by the guild even before they went on strike in mid-July.

One studio source called a deal today “hopeful” while another giddy insider beamed “It’s going to happen.”

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Fran Drescher, Ted Sarandos, Bob Iger, David Zaslav & Donna Langley

After SAG-AFTRA delivered its response on November 6 to the AMPTP’s so-called “last, best and final offer” of late last week, the parties got together for a Zoom meeting yesterday. Going late into the night, that meeting saw the CEO Gang of Four of Disney’s Bob Iger, Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley participating again. Unlike past such gatherings, the studio chiefs were eventually amenable to altering their latest proposal on AI to provide more project specific protections and compensations to performers, we hear.

Whether that shift is enough to bring an end to the bitter and costly six months of strike that have shut Hollywood down, cost the California economy $67.5 billion and seen 45,000 entertainment jobs disappear will likely be decided in the meeting between Crabtree-Ireland and Lombardini today.

“It’s all down to Duncan and Carol and smoothing out the AI language,” an insider declared. Also on the table is an agreement on minimum rates. SAG-AFTRA had wanted an 11% bump, the studios eventually offered 7% – which is better than what the WGA got in their strike ending deal back in September. The guild has since moved its ask to around 9% and the two sides are said to be settling somewhere around 8%, we hear.

Described by studio sources as “historic,” for what that’s worth, the November 3 offer from the AMPTP additionally includes, but is not limited to, a multi-decade wage increase, and a 100% raise in performance compensation bonuses for big-budget streaming series and movies that meet certain thresholds. The guild is said to have “issues” with those benchmarks, seeing them as too high to be meaningful to many of their members.

Neither the AMPTP nor SAG-AFTRA today responded to Deadline’s request for comment. If and when they do, we will update. Worth noting, both WBD and Disney have Q4 earnings results out later this week and an end to the strike would not be unwelcome on Wall Street, if you know what we mean?

As the industry waits with baited breath, Hollywood is primed to resume production of movies and TV series around the globe, to get a 2024 feature slate and TV schedule back on track.

While there were gripes from studio executives last night after the guild’s response to the studio’s “last, best, and final offer,” it turns out that both sides were closer than anticipated as they went over contract terms into the night. One exec was up in arms over the guild’s ask to have actors’ approval of their digital selves, and the union’s OK on every use of AI in addition to a digital performer. “Not how movies are made!” However, we’ll see how both sides come to terms when the dust finally settles on AI rights and streaming revenue residuals. 

Still, pickets were up and SAG-AFTRA members and their allies were out on the streets of NYC and LA today.