After last week’s major announcement of a new three-year contract between Hollywood’s actors and studios, the actors’ union followed up on Monday by releasing details of that agreement. They included specifics on residual payments for distribution on streaming and restrictions on studio use of Artificial Intelligence, tough issues at the heart of the long-running dispute.
On residuals, SAG-AFTRA negotiators were able to lock in a “bonus” model similar to the one agreed to by the writers 6 weeks earlier. If a film or series is watched by more than 20% of the subscribers on a streaming platform within the first 90 days of its launch, the studios will make a bonus payment with 75% going directly to the actors and 25% going to a fund that is run jointly between the actors’ union and the studios.
Analysts suggest that monies in the fund may be redistributed to the lowest earning members on these projects who do not meet the annual earnings threshold of $26,000 that qualifies them for union benefits such as healthcare.
AI protections had been the other thorny and somewhat mysterious issue during negotiations. For deceased actors, studios will henceforth need to obtain permission from both the union and the actor’s estate in order to use their digital likeness.
This was a significant expansion from the studios’ initial offer which allowed unrestricted use of the digital likenesses of deceased actors. Studios will need to obtain explicit consent from living actors except for post-production edits that can be described as “alterations, editing, arranging, rearranging, revising or manipulating of photography.”
The post-production caveat raised some objections, with some of SAG-AFTRA’s board members voting against the deal and former SAG-AFTRA negotiator Justine Bateman criticizing the deal on this basis. Despite these concerns, all indications are pointing to SAG-AFTRA’s members voting next week to ratify the agreement.
See also: SAG-AFTRA Board Members Explain ‘No’ Votes: ‘There Should Be No AI’ (Variety)