British actors seal new film deal

Phantom strike is over

LONDON — The phantom strike by British film actors is over.

Equity, the actors’ union, voted Monday to agree a new two-year film contract with producers, replacing the old deal which expired last December.

For the first time, British actors have won the right to residual payments for studio movies and indie pics shot in the U.K.

“This is one of the biggest achievement’s in Equity’s history,” celebrated one union official. “For the first time, the contribution of U.K.-based performers to the financial success of feature films has been acknowleged.”

Equity has technically been on strike since the old contract lapsed Dec. 1. But in reality, the union has struck interim deals with individual producers, ensuring that no movie has been blocked by the labor dispute.

Nonetheless, the uncertainty has hampered efforts to attract the Hollywood studios to shoot big-budget movies in Britain.

Equity and PACT, the org which represents British producers, have agreed two alternative contracts – one tailored for studio pics, and the other for indie movies.

For most indie films, actors will receive a flat 2% of net profits. However, there are more complex formulas for films budgeted between £1 million and £3 million ($1.4 million and $4.2 million), and for films under $1.4 million.

For studio films, actors have won a share of worldwide video/DVD revenues, and a slice of TV income everywhere except in the United States.

The key points in the studio deal:

  • U.K. terrestrial TV – the producer pays an extra 20% of the actor’s salary to pre-purchase three showings within five years. Thereafter the actors receive 3.5% of further sales.

  • U.K. secondary TV – a 3.5% royalty applies after four years, pre-purchased for 5% of salary.

  • U.K. pay-TV and pay-per-view – a 3.5% royalty after four years, pre-purchased for 25%.

  • Rest-of-world TV, excluding U.S. – a 3.5% royalty after four years. Pre-purchase is 10%.

  • Video/DVD. Producers pay 90% of an actor’s salary to cover revenues up to 50% of the film’s budget.

After that threshold, actors will get a 3% royalty.

Additionally, producers will pay 75% of buy theatrical use through the world, and 55% to buy out U.S. TV, with no royalties in either case.

John McVay, chief executive of PACT, commented, “We now have a modern and progressive agreement that recognizes that talent will share in the success of films produced in the U.K. PACT looks forward to working with Equity to develop and sustain a profitable and successful British film industry.”

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