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Contract for Hollywood actors includes $40m yearly in streaming bonuses

Streaming services like Netflix will pay actors bonuses amounting to roughly $40m a year as part of the tentative labor agreement reached between the Sag-Aftra actors union and major Hollywood studios, union leaders said on Friday after their board backed the deal.

The proposed three-year contract, which the union said was valued at more than $1bn over three years, was endorsed by 86% of Sag-Aftra’s national board.

The contract includes creation of a new fund to pay performers for future viewings of their work on streaming services, in addition to traditional residuals paid for the showing of movies or series.

Union leaders touted immediate 11% wage increases for background actors, as well as immediate 7% wage increases for others.

They also highlighted hard-fought wins on AI. “For the first time, informed consent and fair compensation guardrails will be in place around the use of artificial intelligence in our industry,” the chief negotiator, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, said.

For Black actors and other actors of color, who have long highlighted racist practices in Hollywood hair and makeup departments, the contract includes “new terms to ensure that sets have proper hair and makeup for all performers, including those who have diverse and textured hair and complexions”, Crabtree-Ireland said.

Many Black actors have previously described being told that productions “didn’t have the budget” for styling their type of hair, or encountering stylists who seemed to have no experience working with their hair type or skin tone.

The contract would also institute a “requirement to have intimacy coordinators for scenes involving nudity or simulated sex”, Crabtree-Ireland said.

Union members now must vote on whether to ratify the agreement with Netflix, Walt Disney, Warner Bros Discovery and other members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Voting is expected to end in early December, Crabtree-Ireland said.

The Sag-Aftra president, Fran Drescher, said the union had only partly achieved its goal of getting streaming services to share more revenue with actors. While companies rejected earlier proposals including a per-subscriber fee, they agreed to new bonus payments.

“We opened a new revenue stream,” Drescher said at a press conference. “We got into another pocket.”

Under terms of the deal, 75% of the $40m pool will go to actors on the most popular streaming shows. The remaining 25% will go to a fund that will be distributed to actors on other streaming shows.

The AMPTP said it was pleased that the Sag-Aftra board had endorsed the deal.

“We are also grateful that the entire industry has enthusiastically returned to work,” the group said in a statement.

The successful vote from the board, whose members include actors Billy Porter, Jennifer Beals, Sean Astin and Sharon Stone, was expected, as many of the same people were on the committee that negotiated the deal. It was in some ways drained of its drama by union leaders declaring the strike over as soon as the tentative deal was reached with the AMPTP on Wednesday, rather than waiting for the board’s approval.

AI was one of the issues resolved in the final hours of negotiations, Crabtree-Ireland said.

Studios must obtain an actor’s consent before using their image to create a digital replica, and provide a specific description, he said. The actor would receive payment equivalent to the type of work the digital replica performs on-screen.

The contract also protects background performers from the use of their digital replicas without consent, Crabtree-Ireland said.

The use of generative AI to create “synthetic, fake performers” provoked a “very serious fight”, he said.

Under the contract, companies must obtain the consent of performers whose facial features are used to create a synthetic performer, even if it is more than one performer.

The studios must give the union notice anytime they plan to use generative AI to create a synthetic performer, and the union won the right to negotiate for compensation on behalf of the actor whose features were used in the creation of that digital performer.

The deal was reached on Wednesday, ending the second of two overlapping strikes in the US entertainment industry that cost the California economy more than $6bn.

The first, by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), began in May and lasted 148 days. Sag-Aftra walked off the job in July and ended its strike this week after 118 days.


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