After failed discussions to secure a new contract with production companies, the Hollywood actors’ union went on strike at midnight on Thursday.
The giant film and television industries will practically come to an end when actors and writers participate in the first industry-wide walkout in 63 years.
At 07:01 GMT, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA), representing around 160,000 movie and television actors, tweeted a black picture alongside the caption: “12:01 a.m. PT That’s a wrap!”.
SAG-AFTRA had issued a strike order after last-ditch talks with studios over dwindling pay and the threat posed by artificial intelligence ended without a deal.
“This is a moment of history, a moment of truth — if we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in trouble,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher told a press conference, following the union board’s unanimous vote to strike.
We are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business.”
Writers have already spent 11 weeks protesting outside the headquarters of the likes of Disney and Netflix, after their demands for better pay and guarantees over the use artificial intelligence were not met.
Movie studios have already begun reshuffling their calendars, and if the strikes drag on, major film releases could be postponed too.
A strike prevents actors from promoting some of the year’s biggest releases, at the peak of the industry’s summer blockbuster season.
Drescher told AFP that SAG-AFTRA was “duped” into extending negotiations for two weeks by studios that wanted to promote their movies.
But we were duped. They stayed behind closed doors, they kept canceling our meetings, wasting time.
“It was probably all to have more time to promote their summer movies. Because nothing came out of it that was significant.”
SAG-AFTRA represents actors from A-list stars such as Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Glenn Close to day players who do small roles on television series.
The last time the actors’ union went on strike, in 1980, it lasted more than three months.