Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt Walk Out of Movie Event to Support Actors Unions Strike

A number of A-list stars have voiced their support for the Hollywood strike staged by the Screen Actors Guild amid concerns over wages, AI and profits from digital streaming.

AceShowbiz -The Screen Actors Guild has decided to go on strike. The actors’ union plans a strike across TV, theatrical, and streaming productions which will be effective July 14 at 12:01 A.M (Los Angeles time) and will mark the biggest shutdown in Hollywood for more than 60 years as the Writers Guild Strike enters its 73rd day on strike, meaning that the majority of entertainment projects in the US will cease production.

Concerns are raised over wages for actors and creators in the industry alike, AI technology, and how the profits of digital streaming on services such as Netflix and Disney+ can be divided.

Fran Drescher, the president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or SAG-AFTRA, said in a press conference, “At some point, you have to say no, ‘We are not going to take this anymore!’ You cannot change the business model as much as it has changed and not change the contract too. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all in trouble.”

It is thought that the sudden shutdown will mean the cancellation of press junkets and premieres for movies over the summer and the upcoming Emmy Awards – which are set to take place on September 19 – will likely be postponed.

The group representing the studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP, were quick to note that they are “deeply disappointed” in the decision and insisted that the decision was not in their hands. In a statement, they said, “We are deeply disappointed that SAG-AFTRA has decided to walk away from negotiations.”

“This is the Union’s choice, not ours. In doing so, it has dismissed our offer of historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses, and more. Rather than continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.”

Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers came to an end on Wednesday, July 12 evening with no firm agreement in place and Drescher alleged that the AMPTP’s responses were “insulting” and insisted that they could not “reach a deal” at present.

She said, “We negotiated in good faith and were eager to reach a deal that sufficiently addressed performer needs, but the AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry. The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us. Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal.”

The strike was announced during the London premiere of Christopher Nolan’s film “Oppenheimer” and he took to the stage shortly after the red carpet appearances to reveal that several stars had walked out of the glitzy event to “write the picket signs” in preparation for the shutdown.

Speaking on stage at the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square, he said, “I have to acknowledge the work of our incredible cast, led by Cillian Murphy. The list is enormous – Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Kenneth Branagh, Rami Malek and so many more.”

“You’ve seen them here earlier on the red carpet. Unfortunately, they are off to write their picket signs for what we believe to be an imminent strike by SAG, joining one of my guilds, the Writers Guild, in the struggle for fair wages for working members of their union.”

Meanwhile, other Hollywood stars have also spoken out of in favour of strikes. On Wednesday, Margot Robbie noted at the London premiere of her “Barbie” movie that she was “absolutely” in support of the strikes. She said, “I very much am in support of all the unions and I’m a part of SAG, so I would absolutely stand by them.”

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