SAG-AFTRA, Studios to Meet Again on Wednesday Following 10-Hour Talks on Tuesday

UPDATE, Tuesday 10:40 p.m.:

After a grueling 10 hours of deliberations on Tuesday, SAG-AFTRA adjourned for the night still short of new deal that can bring an end to the now 187-day long strike. The guild said it would resume deliberations over the studio’s proposal on Wednesday, in a statement to members issued late Tuesday night.

“Following a meeting Monday night with the AMPTP, the TV/Theatrical Negotiating Committee spent 10 hours deliberating today. We will continue on Wednesday. We appreciate your patience and support while we finish our work,” Guild leaders said.

As the two sides inch closer to a deal, the chief disagreement remains language governing the use of so-called “artificial intelligence.” The guild is seeking iron-clad protections for actors that would prevent studios from using their likeness without consent and would require they be paid for each use, while the studios have been trying to secure the right to pay for such rights only one time and potentially own them in perpetuity.

Representatives for SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

Original post, 1:47 p.m.:

Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers may be near an end as the two sides made significant progress on artificial intelligence protections, which insiders say is the final hurdle in finalizing a strike-ending deal.

An insider on the studio side of talks told TheWrap that there is a “high chance” that a deal could be reached on Tuesday. SAG-AFTRA has urged caution throughout the negotiating process, instructing members to disregard media reports until leadership announces that a deal has been made.

During the early weeks of the strike, studio insiders told TheWrap that they felt confident that reaching a resolution with the actors guild on AI protections for actors would be more straightforward compared to other sticking points like streaming compensation.

But that has not quite been the case as AI has been the subject of complex negotiations between AMPTP reps and SAG-AFTRA committee members as well as their respective legal teams over the past week, according to a guild insider. The insider also said that the studios’ offer on AI protections didn’t go far enough after working until midnight on Sunday reviewing the updated proposal that AMPTP presented to them this past weekend.

SAG-AFTRA sent its response on the AMPTP’s full counterproposal back to the studios on Monday, prompting another round of negotiations that evening.

The insider noted that one issue that the guild wished to continue negotiating on heading into this week was actors’ ability to control whether studios can create digital replicas of their likenesses and performances through their estates after their death.

Some big-name actors have arranged deals on AI replicas with studios. The most prominent recent example is James Earl Jones, who reached an agreement with Lucasfilm to allow the studio to make AI replicas of his voice for Darth Vader in future “Star Wars” projects. With AI expected to improve its ability to replicate long deceased actors going forward, SAG-AFTRA has pushed for stringent guardrails to protect members from having their wishes regarding digital replicas of them disregarded.

It remains to be seen what other agreements SAG-AFTRA will make with AMPTP on other key sticking points. Sources have told TheWrap that the two sides are expected to reach a compromise on the issue of basic minimum rate increases that will see the actors guild earn a higher percentage increase in the first year of the contract than what the Writers Guild of America and Directors Guild of America negotiated, but lower than the 11% increase it sought at the start of talks.

The studios have also adamantly refused the guild’s proposed revenue sharing structure for streaming services, instead pushing for a performance-based bonus structure similar to the one negotiated with the Writers Guild of America. Insiders say the AMPTP has increased the size of the bonus structure over the course of negotiations, including in the proposal sent to SAG-AFTRA this past weekend.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to note that there were no negotiations on Tuesday, rather there were 10 hours of deliberations by SAG-AFTRA’s negotiations committee. TheWrap regrets the error.

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