This was not how David Zaslav and Bob Iger wanted today to go.
As recently as 36 hours ago, the Warner Bros Discovery boss and the Disney CEO believed, along with other studio chiefs, the nearly five-month long SAG-AFTRA strike could be over by now. Yesterday, with the guild and the AMPTP closing the gap over AI protections, a wave of good cheer swept over the town. However, as day went on, it became clear late last night that there would be no deal on Tuesday.
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Now 118 days into the SAG-AFTRA strike that has seen Hollywood production shuttered, the actors guild continues to go over the details of the AMPTP’s voluminous latest set of proposals.
Currently, as the guild negotiating committee confers, there are intentions to reach out to AMPTP later today, we hear. There are no plans right now for the CEO Gang of Four – Disney’s Iger, WBD’s Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley – to get directly involved in further talks
“We are reviewing the offer, building on the movement, but rushing this serves no one in the end,” a guild source tells us of their approach. “We know people want to see a deal, it has to be a fair deal, a deal worth all the sacrifices made.”
“Everyone is working hard to finish,” an industry insider tells Deadline. “It’s a groundbreaking deal,” he added of the studios’ self-described “best, last and final offer” of increased minimum rates, big upticks in performance compensation bonuses, “full” AI protections and more.
In that context, Zaslav has seen WBD stock drop double digits Wednesday after the company’s Q3 earnings results revealed sluggish ad revenues and hard EBITDA blows due to the now resolved WGA strike and the SAG-AFTRA labor action. Looking at buying out Comcast’s remaining stake in Hulu for at least $9 billion, a less than marvelous opening for The Marvels this weekend, and a renewed investor uprising from Nelson Peltz, Disney would have welcomed the good news and distraction of a strike resolution before it releases Q3 results today after the market closes at 1 pm PT.
“We thought this was in the can, feels like they are making us wait to prove a point,” a studio insider close to the talks told Deadline this morning. A talent rep griped that they too are feeling the sting that “no one can make money for the rest of the year,” with global productions on continued hold and the impossibility of booking talent before 2024.
Overall, the six months of WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes has cost the California economy more than $6.5 billion and saw 45,000 entertainment jobs disappear.
About the deal put forth to the guild, Zaslav said this morning, “We made a last and final offer, which met virtually all of the union’s goals, and includes the highest wage increase in 40 years, and I believe it provides for a positive outcome for all involved. We recognize that we need our creative partners to feel valued and rewarded and look forward to both sides getting back to the business of telling great stories.”
As SAG-AFTRA members were out on the pickets in NYC and LA today, neither the guild not the AMPTP responded to requests for comment from Deadline on where things are at. If and when they do, we will update this post.