Hollywood actors announced on Thursday they will go on strike, joining writers in the first industry-wide shutdown in 63 years after last-ditch talks failed, with nearly all film and television production set to grind to a halt.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), which represents 160,000 performers including A-list stars, said negotiations had ended without a deal on their demands over dwindling pay and the threat posed by artificial intelligence.
“SAG-AFTRA’s national board unanimously voted to issue a strike order against the studios and streamers,” said the union’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
The strike will begin at midnight Thursday (0700 GMT Friday), meaning actors will join writers on picket lines from Friday morning in the first Hollywood “double strike” since 1960.
Writers have already spent 11 weeks on the picket line, after their similar demands for better pay and protections against the future use of AI in television and films were not met.
Popular series set to return to television this year now face lengthy delays. And, if strikes continue, major films could be postponed too.
A strike immediately prevents actors from promoting some of the year’s biggest releases, at the peak of the movie industry’s summer blockbuster season.
Director Christopher Nolan told the London premiere of his new film Oppenheimer that his cast had walked out of the glitzy event in solidarity with the strike, Variety reported.
SAG-AFTRA represents everyone from A-list stars such as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Glenn Close to day players who do small roles on television series.
The vast majority of members had already voted to pre-approve industrial action if a deal was not reached.
“Compensation has been severely eroded by the rise of the streaming ecosystem. Furthermore, artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to creative professions,” a SAG-AFTRA statement said after the talks fell through.
Executives have “refused to acknowledge that enormous shifts in the industry and economy have had a detrimental impact on those who perform labor for the studios,” it continued.
Originally published in Dawn, July 14th, 2023