(Los Angeles) Clap of end, but beginning of hostilities in Hollywood: the actors launched their strike Friday by protesting in front of the major studios with the screenwriters, for a double social movement which causes the worst paralysis of the sector for more than 60 years.
Hundreds of strikers with signs marched in front of the Netflix building, on the famous Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, but also elsewhere in the city as well as in New York, in front of studios and streaming services such as HBO, Amazon or Paramount.
“We’re here for the long haul,” Vera Cherny told AFP from Los Angeles, referring to a “historic moment.”
“Now is the time to secure contracts that will serve generations of actors to come, as they did in 1960,” added the 44-year-old actress, who has appeared in The Americans and For All Mankind.
“‘Spoiler alert’: We’re gonna win,” proclaimed signs held by actors, including series star Ted Lasso Jason Sudeikis, outside NBC Universal Studios in New York.
“We’re just trying to earn a minimum income, which allows us to live in New York … where we work,” said actress Casey Killoran, 36.
This is the first strike bringing together actors and screenwriters in 63 years in Hollywood.
The production of films and series had already been idling since the beginning of May because of the movement of screenwriters, but with the walkout of actors, the American industry finds itself on its knees: apart from a few “soap operas” and reality TV shows , filming is simply impossible.
The two trades are demanding an increase in their remuneration, at half mast in the era of streaming.
They also want to obtain guarantees regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI), to prohibit the latter from generating scripts or cloning their voices and images.
“AI threatens to exclude real artists from the creative space,” said Ezra Knight, president of the New York branch of the actors union SAG-AFTRA.
Despite an extension and government mediation, negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and employers failed.
The gap between managers and workers seems wide open. On Thursday, Disney boss Bob Iger blasted the “unrealistic” demands of actors and screenwriters.
On the picket lines, the atmosphere is determined. The refrain of a Hollywood perverted by the values of Silicon Valley and its obsession with reducing costs comes up regularly among the actors or screenwriters met by AFP in recent weeks.
“We are fighting for it to be a viable career, and not just a small job”, explains to Netflix Jonathan Bazile, castigating the culture of “tech bros” imported by the advent of streaming.
This new model has disrupted the “residual” remuneration of actors and screenwriters, which arises from each rerun of a film or series and allows them to live between two projects.
Interesting with television because calculated according to the price of advertisements, these emoluments are much lower with streaming platforms, which do not communicate their audience figures and pay a flat rate, regardless of success.
The rapid development of AI, which threatens to replace them, only reinforces the impression that the industry is going through a real existential crisis.
“This is a critical moment,” actor Kenneth Branagh admitted at the Oppenheimer London premiere on Thursday, before the entire cast of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster left the red carpet in a sign of solidarity, just before the announcement of the strike. “Everyone is trying to get a fair deal, that’s what’s needed, and we’ll support it. »
Guidelines from SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 actors, stunt performers, dancers and other professionals on the small and big screen, prohibit all members from filming, but also from promoting their productions, in person or on social media .
No one knows how long this strike will last, but if it drags on, it could delay many blockbusters currently in production like the sequel to Gladiator, Deadpool 3 or Ghostbusters 4.
Major conventions and festivals such as Comic-Con or the Venice Film Festival will also take place without American actors.
Even the Emmy Awards ceremony, equivalent to the Oscars for TV, scheduled for September 18, is threatened. The production is already considering postponing the event in November, or even in 2024, according to the American press.
The impact for the sector is likely to be staggering. The last writers’ strike, which dates back to 2007-2008, lasted 100 days and cost two billion dollars.