In what is being described as the largest strike in Hollywood in over 60 years, actors such as Jason Sudeikis and Susan Sarandon have joined screenwriters on picket lines. The strike, which
began in May, was sparked by frustrations over pay, working conditions, and the lack of protections against the advancements of artificial intelligence (AI).
The shutdown is expected to impact major film productions, including sequels to Avatar and Gladiator. During the strike, actors are prohibited from appearing in films or promoting movies. Brian Cox, lead actor on HBO's Succession, stated that the strike could potentially last until the end of the year, highlighting the significant shift in the industry brought about by streaming platforms.
Approximately 160,000 performers ceased work on Thursday at midnight, gathering outside the offices of major studios and streaming services in Los Angeles, New York, and other cities by Friday noon. Celebrities from the film and television industry have shown support, with stars of the upcoming Oppenheimer movie even walking off the red carpet in solidarity.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is demanding fairer profit sharing from streaming giants, improved working conditions, and safeguards against the use of AI to replace actors. Productions that are likely to be affected include sequels to Avatar, Deadpool, and Gladiator, as well as upcoming seasons of popular shows like House of the Dragon, Family Guy, and The Simpsons.
The strike has already disrupted red-carpet premieres, promotional interviews, and events such as the Emmys and Comic-Con, leading to rescheduling or scaled-back plans. The strike reflects the challenges faced by the entertainment industry during the digital streaming era and broader technological changes.
Susan Sarandon, Academy Award winner, emphasized the need for foresight and collective action to address these issues. Actors and writers have voiced concerns over declining wages and shorter, precarious contracts that fail to adequately compensate for their work.
Fran Drescher, the current SAG president, criticized the treatment of industry professionals by what she called a "very greedy entity." The strike sends a strong message that the actors and writers are determined to fight for their rights and fair treatment in the industry. Photo by Sten Rüdrich, Wikimedia commons.