For the second time in film history, two Hollywood unions have gone on strike, shutting down production on current and future projects. Actors joined Hollywood’s writers on picket lines today. The Screen Actors Guild announced on Thursday that the strike would be effective midnight, prompting the cast of Oppenheimer to leave the film’s London premiere. The last time both unions went on strike together was in 1960 – actors and writers have picketed separately at other times. Here’s everything you need to know about the big Hollywood shut down.
WHY HOLLYWOOD IS ON STRIKE
Both the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild are asking for better pay, a fair share of profits, improved working conditions and protection against artificial intelligence or AI taking their jobs. SAG has also asked for actors sending in self-made auditions to be compensated. On a website created for the strike, SAG says it wants “a modern contract that addresses modern issues.”
A big concern for both actors and writers is the drop in payments known as residuals – these are payments received by performers from re-runs of their films and shows. Residuals have all but disappeared because streaming sites do not disclose their audience figures and pay a flat rate as residuals instead.
WHO THEY ARE STRIKING AGAINST
The guilds are striking against the AMPTP or Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers, which includes the major Hollywood studios. SAG extended their deadline for a strike – set for a month ago – in hopes of a deal with studios. “We, in good faith, gave them an extension, with the hope that they would make deep inroads, and we would really have something to discuss. But we were duped. They stayed behind closed doors, they kept canceling our meetings, wasting time. It was probably all to have more time to promote their summer movies. Because nothing came out of it that was significant,” SAG president Fran Descher told news agency AFP.
Had the strike begun a month ago, actors like Tom Cruise, Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling would not have been able to promote their movies Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and Barbie (which held a premiere earlier this week).
WHAT ACTORS CANNOT DO WHILE ON STRIKE
SAG represents some 1,60,000 artistes including most of Hollywood’s top stars. While on strike, SAG members cannot do any on or off camera work including acting, dancing, singing or voice acting. They cannot promote their films or attend premieres, festivals, panels, interviews, award shows or fan meets. They cannot rehearse or attend costume fittings. They can also not negotiate for future projects.
Actors will picket studios like Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros and Paramount in Los Angeles and New York, joining writers who have been picketing since May 2.
Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Florence Pugh before leaving the Oppenheimer premiere
HOW THE STRIKE WILL IMPACT HOLLYWOOD FILMS
Director Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer was the first to feel the blow with the film’s cast, led by actors Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt, walking out of the premiere in London. The premiere for Special Ops: Lioness, starring Nicole Kidman, Zoe Saldana, Morgan Freeman and others, has been cancelled and more cancellations are expected.
Next week’s ‘Barbenheimer’ clash between Barbie and Oppenheimer will take place without participation from the stars of either film.
Production on almost all films and shows will grind to a halt.
HOW AMPTP HAS RESPONDED
“A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life. The Union has regrettably chosen a path that will lead to financial hardship for countless thousands of people who depend on the industry,” said the producers alliance in a statement, reported Variety.