Why SAG-AFTRA Thinks Studios Won’t Acquire Interim Agreement Films During the Strike

During an online press conference concerning the strike interim agreements, SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland noted that any independent film approved for the agreement must also agree to the streaming revenue sharing terms that were rejected by Hollywood studios and remain a key sticking point in the ongoing actors strike.

It is for this reason that Crabtree-Ireland and SAG-AFTRA leadership believe that Hollywood studios represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) will not acquire films approved for the agreement at film festivals as a way of relieving the production stoppage caused by the strike, something that has been a common concern among guild members skeptical of the interim strategy.

“One of the proposals [AMPTP] has been most resistant to and refuse to even discuss has been the shared revenue proposals because, in my opinion, they don’t want to share revenue from streaming,” Crabtree-Ireland said on Tuesday.

“The likelihood that an AMPTP studio is going to platform content that they are then going to have to pay streaming revenue share on during the course of the strike is, in my view, minimal or nonexistent,” he added.

During the talks, the guild presented a model originally devised by its president, Fran Drescher, in which the guild would receive a percentage of streaming revenue that would be divided up by project based on that project’s contribution to the overall revenue earned by the streaming service it is hosted on.

The data that would determine how that revenue is divided would come from a third party metrics company, as the studios have kept viewership data strictly confidential even from the actors and filmmakers that work on the projects.

In its public response to SAG-AFTRA’s proposal, AMPTP said it rejected the model outright and asked the guild repeatedly to drop it from its contract proposals as it was “serving as a roadblock to reaching an agreement.”

“The Union is proposing that performers share in the rewards of a successful show, without bearing any of the risk,” the AMPTP wrote. “Under the Union’s proposal, performers would be entitled to receive not only the existing fixed residual – which is paid to the performer even if no one is watching the program – but also a new residual which ‘shares’ in revenue that is somehow attributed to the show. The Union proposes to ‘share’ in success, but not in failure.”

Crabtree-Ireland says that whenever SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP reach a deal, the interim agreement terms will “merge” with the terms in the ratified contract. With the AMPTP currently in resumed, on-and-off talks with the Writers Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA is still weeks if not months away from resuming talks, so it is yet to be determined whether the streaming revenue terms as they are currently outlined in the interim agreement will make it into the final AMPTP deal.

Such revenue sharing is a core issue for the actors guild, as they see it as necessary to combat the declining residuals that actors have faced amidst the global shift from linear television to streaming. For many actors, especially retirees, residuals are a vital source of income and determine whether they qualify for the guild’s health plan.

Crabtree-Ireland’s comments come as the fall film festival season, highlighted by top showcases in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, are rapidly approaching. Such festivals are usually a spot for awards contenders to begin their campaigns for Oscar season and for independent films to negotiate theatrical and streaming distribution deals.

But Hollywood’s double strike, particularly the SAG-AFTRA side, is putting a damper on those plans. Many prominent films that will be featured at the fall festivals, such as Netflix’s “Maestro” starring Carey Mulligan and Bradley Cooper, will not have actors in attendance to discuss the film per the guild’s strike rules.

Some exceptions have been made, like Michael Mann’s film “Ferrari,” which had its interim agreement approved as it is being distributed theatrically by Neon. This means that “Ferrari” stars like Adam Driver will be able to attend the film’s Venice premiere, though it is still unclear whether they will do so or choose to skip promoting the film out of solidarity with fellow striking actors.

The post Why SAG-AFTRA Thinks Studios Won’t Acquire Interim Agreement Films During the Strike appeared first on TheWrap.

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