Hollywood Actors' Strike: What's at Stake and its Impact on the Film Industry.
June 30, 2023: This summer, Hollywood faces a potential crisis as writers’ strikes have already hit TV and film productions worldwide. The spotlight is on actors threatening to strike if significant studios, streamers, and production companies don’t reach a new contract agreement.
What Actors Want: The actors’ primary demands revolve around higher pay and protections against the unauthorized use of their images through artificial intelligence (AI). With AI technology capable of replicating facial expressions, body movements, and even voices with astonishing accuracy, actors fear losing their jobs to machines. They want guarantees that AI won’t replace their roles, making them obsolete. High-profile stars like Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves have already experienced the unsettling impact of AI-generated deep fake videos.
Additionally, the streaming boom has significantly influenced contract negotiations. Although series budgets are increasing, the share of money going to performers has not seen a proportional rise. Furthermore, residuals for actors working on streaming platforms are much smaller than traditional broadcast TV rates. The burden of “self-taped auditions,” where actors film their auditions for casting consideration, has also become contentious.
The Studios’ Response: The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing major Hollywood studios like Walt Disney and Netflix, aims to negotiate a new agreement that benefits both SAG-AFTRA members and the industry. However, they have been facing challenges as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has been on strike for two months, demanding higher minimum pay, more writers per show, and less exclusivity on single projects. The ongoing writers’ strike has already impacted productions, and an actors’ strike could further disrupt Hollywood’s programming for streaming services and the autumn TV schedule.
Actress Rebecca Ferguson has voiced her concerns about the impact of AI technology on creative professionals in the film industry. Many Hollywood stars share this concern. Many Hollywood stars have shown solidarity with the writers’ strike, joining picket lines and supporting the cause. The entertainment industry is united in its fight to protect the value of human creativity and emotion that AI-generated content cannot replicate.
Impact on Movie Lovers: The film industry could reach a near-standstill if actors go on strike. Productions would halt due to the need for more scripts and performers. Moreover, promotion events for completed projects, such as movie premieres and TV show promotions, would suffer as actors would be absent from red carpets, TV shows, and interviews. This situation could have far-reaching consequences on the release schedules for upcoming films and lead to difficulties for film festivals and awards season campaigns.
The Business Impact: Beyond the disappointment for movie and TV lovers, a prolonged strike could significantly impact the box office’s recent post-pandemic recovery. With US box office earnings already nearing $4 billion, an actors’ strike would disrupt the positive trend. Negotiations with the writers’ and actors’ guilds put pressure on studios, necessitating careful handling to avoid further disruptions.
Hollywood is on edge as the summer continues due to the potential actors’ strike. The demands for higher pay and AI safeguards, along with the ongoing writers’ strike, are testing the resilience of the entertainment industry. With notable films like Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and the live-action Barbie movie scheduled for release, the impact of an actors’ strike could be felt across the entertainment landscape. The situation remains fluid as negotiations continue, and the industry and audiences hold their breath to see if Hollywood can avoid a major shutdown.