(Los Angeles) Although the screenwriters have reached an agreement in principle to end the strike that has paralyzed the American film industry for almost five months, Hollywood is still far from being out of the woods, because the standoff between actors and studios continues.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached a compromise on Sunday with the bosses of the major studios and streaming platforms.
This agreement, which includes “significant gains” in terms of remuneration as well as protections to regulate the use of artificial intelligence, must still be ratified by the 11,500 members of the union.
But this should be a formality. The union has already indicated that it will allow its members to return to work before the end of the process.
Enough to allow “late night shows”, these news and entertainment shows broadcast at the end of the evening, to resume within two to three weeks, according to the specialist magazine Variety.
Despite this modest restart, Hollywood remains largely in a rut. The actors, represented by the SAG-AFTRA union, remain on strike and a resolution of this social conflict could take several more weeks.
And even after the actors return to work, it will surely still take months to really get everyone back on set and catch up on accumulated delays.
“There are probably more than 1,500 productions who all want to start as soon as they can,” Jonathan Handel, a lawyer specializing in the entertainment industry, reminds AFP. When the union gives the green light, “they will all be competing at the same time […], it’s absolute chaos.”
According to him, the production process will not return to normal “until January or February.”
The compromise agreed by the studios with the screenwriters includes an increase in the minimum wage, the payment of bonuses for those who write highly watched series, even on streaming platforms, and safeguards to ensure that artificial intelligence can be used to generate scripts without affecting their remuneration.
The agreement therefore overlaps with numerous requests from the actors, and their union will unearth the details, before resuming its own negotiations with the studios.
But some of SAG-AFTRA’s demands go further than those of the WGA, Mr. Handel points out.
The actors’ union is demanding a greater increase in salaries, and to award a real percentage of profits to actors when a series is a hit, not just a bonus.
The negotiations therefore promise to be difficult. Especially since the studios know that what they release to the actors will serve as a standard for the technical professions in the industry, whose collective agreements must be renewed next year.
“I think that base salaries are going to be a huge obstacle to the SAG agreement in the coming weeks,” summarizes Mr. Handel.
The talks should also cover topics specific to actors, such as remote auditions. A practice born during the pandemic and widely denounced by actors.
The agreement between screenwriters and studios still opens the way to a resolution of the crisis. In its wake, SAG-AFTRA could meet with employers next week, for the first time since the start of the actors’ strike in mid-July.
“The end of the WGA strike will hasten the end of the SAG-AFTRA walkout,” predicts Variety.
But even “if things go like clockwork – which is an insane hypothesis – I think it will take two to three weeks to reach an agreement […], which brings us to October”, estimates M .Handel. “Then there’s the ratification process, which takes another month. »
Time is therefore running out for studios, who want actors to return to red carpets to promote end-of-year blockbusters, such as Disney’s new superhero opus, The Marvels.
The return of actors is also essential to ensure the awards season: for television, the Emmy Awards are scheduled for January, and cinema hopes for its traditional Oscars in March.