SAG-AFTRA on strike: Why actors are striking, and what does it mean for Hollywood?

With SAG-AFTRA entering its second month on strike, some may still be in the dark as to what is going on in Hollywood. Why are actors striking, and what does it mean for the future of entertainment?

SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14.
SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 14.  © Chris Delmas / AFP

SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) has been striking since mid-July, only two months after the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) began to strike.

This marks the first time the actors and writers have been on strike at the same time since 1960.

All of this is no secret to anybody who's been keeping up with the news, and it's especially difficult to ignore for those whose work has anything to do with Hollywood.

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Writers and actors have been speaking up, showing up, and donating to the cause as struck studios grow more and more financially impacted by the major halt in production.

Who are SAG-AFTRA striking against?

Companies that have been listed as "struck" include all members of the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), which features the likes of Amazon, Apple, Disney, NBC/Universal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, WB, and all of their subsidiaries.

SAG-AFTRA has recently come up against video game companies as well, potentially opening the door to another strike.

Who aren't SAG-AFTRA striking against?

Broadway and live shows, social media creators (i.e., most non-corporate YouTube and TikTok content), and most podcasts are unaffected by the strike for now.

Internationally and independently produced movies and TV shows unaffiliated with SAG-AFTRA are not considered struck entities, although waivers/interim agreements are still generally required.

For example, indie studio A24 is not part of AMPTP and can continue to film if their waivers are granted.

Why is SAG-AFTRA striking?

After SAG-AFTRA contracts with the AMPTP expired in July, renegotiations were found unsatisfactory by the union, and the strike began.

Both SAG-AFTRA and the WGA are striking for better pay, job security, streaming residuals, and concerns about AI potentially replacing writers and actors as that technology becomes more sophisticated.

What are the rules of the SAG-AFTRA strike?

Members of the SAG-AFTRA union have to follow strict strike rules, or they could risk serious disciplinary action.

According to these rules, guild members are barred from conducting work for any productions affiliated with AMPTP while the strike is underway.

Guild members are also forbidden from promoting projects affiliated with AMPTP, which can include anything from talk shows to social media posts.

Can SAG-AFTRA members attend film premieres during the strike?

While attending film premieres is barred for union members during the strike, there may have been some confusion about this given the plethora of images from the Barbie and Oppenheimer press tours this summer.

Most of the Barbie and Oppenheimer red carpets took place just before the strike went into effect in mid-July, and the cast of Oppenheimer actually left their London premiere early in order to honor the strike's commencement that day.

Movie premieres since the strike officially began have been affected by the actors' strike, as in the case of Disney's Haunted Mansion world premiere, with cast members unable to attend.

Can we still go to the movies during the SAG-AFTRA strike?

If you want to support the strike, you might have been nervous about going to the movies or otherwise consuming the brand and networks within the AMPTP.

Thankfully, there hasn't been a direct call for non-union-affiliated consumers to boycott productions or streaming services. The general consensus seems to be that doing so is okay for non-strikers and might even make the case stronger for the strike in terms of how important the actors and writers are to studios.

In other words? Feel free to Barbenheimer with the best of them!

Cover photo: Chris Delmas / AFP

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