The recent Hollywood actors’ strike has ended, marking a significant milestone for the entertainment industry. The deal reached impacts the use of artificial intelligence and streaming services, which will shape the industry for decades. This article explores this historic event and its implications.
After 118 grueling days of protests, Hollywood actors have finally reached a deal, marking the end of the longest strike in the history of Hollywood. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) agreed with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). While the exact terms of the deal remain undisclosed, it revolves around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in actors’ performances and their demands for residual payments for shows and films on streaming platforms.
The Strike and its Impact
The strike, which saw picket lines outside the offices of industry giants like Netflix, Disney, and Warner Bros.Discovery, was undoubtedly a massive milestone for the $130 billion-plus Hollywood industry. The industry had almost reached a standstill this year as the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG battled for fair wages and the use of AI in their work. The dual work stoppage was the first the industry had faced since 1960.
AI: The Major Sticking Point
As negotiations between SAG and AMPTP dragged on, generative AI became the central point of contention. In July, studios claimed they offered a “groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses.” SAG countered the proposal, stating that it allowed background performers to be scanned, paid for the day, and turned into digital characters that studios could use “for the rest of eternity.”
The Turning Point
On Tuesday, studios reportedly agreed to adjust the AI language in their proposal, which was the turning point. Although the terms of the tentative deal reached Thursday are still being determined, it’s hard to imagine that the actors still need to get at least some of the AI protections they sought.
AI: From Dinner-Party Chatter to International Issue
Since the actors initially went on strike in July, the conversation about artificial intelligence has morphed from dinner-party “What if?” chatter to a full-blown international issue. Last week, US President Joe Biden signed a broad executive order to curtail commercial AI’s power. The order didn’t directly address the effects of machine learning on Hollywood. Still, SAG capitalized on the announcement, stating, “for strong, safe, and responsible AI development and use, workers and unions must remain at the forefront of policy development.”
With both strikes now coming to an end, there is cause for optimism—albeit cautious optimism. It also means productions, from Gladiator 2 to Andor, can resume filming, bringing much-needed relief to the industry. As the dust settles on this historic event, it’s clear that the implications of this deal will shape the entertainment industry landscape for decades to come, particularly in terms of AI and streaming services.