Artificial intelligence has returned front and center in the ongoing labor dispute between Hollywood actors and the entertainment industry’s biggest studios—and could prove to be the key issue that brings the months-long SAG-AFTRA strike to a close.
After the latest stretch of intensive negotiations between both parties, which saw the major studios issue a “last, best, and final offer” to the actors’ guild on Saturday, those same studios have now offered further concessions regarding AI regulation, according to a report in Variety.
While it is still unclear what, exactly, those concessions include, reports indicate that the offer approaches actors’ longstanding demands to control the ability of studios to replicate their voices and likenesses via generative artificial intelligence models. The apparent olive branch comes after representatives for both sides met again Monday night, in a reported attempt to find more common ground.
Though the actors say there’s still plenty about the studios’ latest offer that could be improved upon, particularly regarding streaming residuals, there is now emerging hope in Hollywood that common ground on AI could be a sizable enough victory for SAG-AFTRA to put the entire strike to bed.
A SAG-AFTRA source told Deadline that the additional guarantees related to AI—made by studios in just the last few hours—now make a deal “very close.” A studio insider said that given these updates, a deal is “going to happen.”
Other sources told Variety that the reason the studios are now so willing to offer additional concessions on AI, is a calculated bet that the concession can get a deal with actors over the finish line. The SAG-AFTRA labor action, paired with the now-resolved writers’ strike, has completely shut down Hollywood production for over six months.
If a resolution came as soon as today, that would—in theory—allow time for film and television production to resume at the start of 2024. With the upcoming year’s release calendar already severely disrupted, studios are reportedly desperate to avoid any further production delays.
Lead negotiators for both sides are set to meet again this afternoon—for what an increasing number of industry players hope to be the final time.