Studios fine-tune AI language in payment process to end SAG-AFTRA strike

Major Hollywood studios have agreed to tweak language related to artificial intelligence as they near a contract agreement to end the 117-day SAG-AFTRA strike.

Union negotiators met Monday night with leaders of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. At the meeting, the two sides appeared to have resolved some outstanding issues on artificial intelligence, which has become the main focus of talks over the past 10 days.

SAG-AFTRA leaders are scheduled to meet this afternoon with the union’s bargaining committee. The hope is that the recent movement in AI will be enough to seal the deal.

The union issued a statement on Monday afternoon, saying there were still disagreements on “several key items,” including artificial intelligence. The union delivered its latest formal proposals to the AMPTP on Monday morning, after working 12 hours on Sunday.

Aside from the AI, the Federation was still working on a mechanism to distribute a new reward into the remaining flow. Studios have offered to give actors a 100% bonus on their remaining standard streams if they appear in one of the most-watched shows on the platform.

The deal also includes a significant increase in minimum prices, which the studios described as the largest increase in 40 years. It is expected to be in the 7%-8% range in most cases — lower than the 11% sought by SAG-AFTRA but higher than the 5% that AMPTP agreed to in deals with writers and directors unions.

AMPTP released its “last, best and final” offering on Friday. On Saturday, a large group of CEOs held a Zoom meeting with Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, chief negotiator, to encourage them to accept the deal.

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Studios have warned that an imminent deal is needed in order to salvage part of the TV schedule. As the days go by, more and more feature films have been postponed.

It is not yet clear whether the changes agreed upon on Monday will be approved by the Union Negotiating Committee.

The consortium was said to have reached a common understanding on some thorny AI issues, such as how to handle AI consent in the event of an actor’s death. But the union did not get every item on its list.

The AMPTP has committed to continuing to meet over the next two and a half years until the next negotiations to discuss AI, as the technology advances.

(Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.)

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