Blame the Hollywood strike on AI

Hollywood is in the midst of its first industry-wide stoppage in over 60 years, and it’s all thanks to the unprecedented advances of AI and streaming. 

What happened: Some 160,000 Hollywood actors are on strike as of this morning, after failing to reach a new labour agreement with the body representing studios and streamers.

  • They will join the picket line with the professionals who write their lines, the members of the Writer’s Guild of America, who have been striking since the start of May. 

Why it’s happening: AI, like in seemingly every industry this year, has been seen as a disruptive force and is reportedly a major sticking point in getting new labour deals done. 

  • The actors’ union wants AI protections over fears that an actor’s digital likeness could be used without permission or compensation—which could already be happening.
  • “If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines,” the union president Fran Drescher said at the strike announcement.
  • The writers’ union is looking for full-scale regulation of AI, including guarantees that AI can’t write scripts and material covered by the agreement can’t be used to train AI

Both groups also demand increases for residuals, a vital source of income for writers and actors that once came from home video and re-runs, but has been decimated by streaming.

Why it matters: Well, it’s the perfect time to catch up on stuff! Without actors, basically anything that’s not reality TV or a non-union independent shoot will stop production.

  • The strike also stops actors from hitting the circuit to promote projects, meaning no new Hot Ones episodes or awkward red-carpet interviews for the foreseeable future.

Bottom line: Experts agree this is different than past Hollywood strikes; both in the unique demands, the solidarity between the unions, and the aggressive response from studios. 

  • “The endgame is to allow things to drag on,” one executive told Deadline about the writer’s strike, “until union members start losing their apartments [and] houses.” 

Right now it seems that both sides are far apart on deals. We’ll see who bends first: Studios who need to put out new content or actors and writers who need work to make rent.—QH