U.K. pix pact near

Actors union close to deal with producers

LONDON — U.K. actors union Equity is close to agreeing to a new film contract with British producers.

Details are being closely guarded, but insiders say there has been significant progress in recognizing Equity’s claim to residuals on studio movies, as well as a share of net profit on indie films.

Union officials met leading actors and their agents on Monday to discuss the proposals, and insiders say there remain one or two sticking points. That is why the Equity council was unable to agree on the deal when it met Tuesday to discuss the new terms, and will reconvene Friday to make a final decision. Officials, however, are believed to back the deal and it looks odds-on that the members, represented by the council, will approve it.

Plan may be final offer

The latest proposal from PACT, the org that represents Brit producers, is understood to be final, and if the council rejects it, there is no prospect of any further negotiation.

Equity has technically been on strike since Dec. 1, when the old film contract expired, and there have been no formal negotiations between the two sides since talks broke down that month. Informal contacts have resulted in PACT’s latest offer.

British actors want the right to residuals, like their American colleagues. Producers accept this, but can’t agree how much. The problem is over the deal for Hollywood movies shooting in the U.K. Actors want a slice of worldwide video. PACT wants to exclude revenues from North America and continental Europe, around 70% of the world.

Not far apart on indie pics

For indie movies, the two sides aren’t that far apart — actors will get a small percentage of the producer’s net profit, but since producers never expect to see any net profit, a percentage point here or there doesn’t make much difference to them.

Despite the dispute, shooting has continued under interim deals struck by individual productions including “Bond 20” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

But there are also signs that the uncertainty caused by the labor dispute has driven some Hollywood movies away from using Britain as a production base.

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