SAG-AFTRA approves deal to end strikes – what does this mean for the film industry now?

The agreement all but ends one of the longest labour crises in the history of the entertainment industry.

Hollywood actors are set to end their nearly four-month strike, the SAG-AFTRA union announced on Wednesday, bringing to a close a historic work stoppage that had brought the film and television industry to a standstill for months.

SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday, ending film and television actors’ longest strike roughly a month after writers signed their new contract. The deal came after parties had resumed talks last week following stalled negotiations in early October.

“In a contract valued at over $1bn, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope,” the union said in a public statement. Among its wins, the union said, were larger-than-expected increases in minimum compensation, a first-time “streaming participation bonus”, and “unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI”.

Hollywood producers also touted the tentative deal as establishing “a new paradigm” for the industry. The contract “gives SAG-AFTRA the biggest contract-on-contract gains in the history of the union, including the largest increase in minimum wages in the last forty years; a brand new residual for streaming programs; extensive consent and compensation protections in the use of artificial intelligence; and sizable contract increases on items across the board,” the AMPTP said in a statement on Wednesday night.

In its statement, the union said the new contract achieved what actors on the picket lines had said they needed – pay increases and protections that made it possible for “SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers”.

“Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work,” SAG-AFTRA said.

The union said the 118-day strike would be “officially suspended” at 12.01am on Thursday, and that all picket locations would close. They also said negotiators had reached a preliminary deal on a new contract with the AMPTP, which represents Walt Disney, Netflix and other media companies.

The breakthrough means Hollywood can ramp up to full production for the first time since May, once union members vote to confirm the deal in the coming weeks.

Although the writers strike had immediate, visible effects for viewers, the impact of the actors’ absence was not as immediately apparent. But viewers may continue to feel its effects – delayed release dates and waits for new show seasons – for months or even years.

Now that a deal has been reached, actors could quickly return to movie sets where productions were paused, including Deadpool 3, Gladiator 2 and Wicked. Other movies and shows will restart shooting once returning writers finish scripts.

The end of the strike would also fully free actors to return to red carpets, talk shows and podcasts, as Hollywood’s awards season approaches. The only major awards show directly affected by the strike was the Emmys, which was moved from September to January.