LONDON — Following the lead of the Screen Actors Guild, the British thesp union Equity has taken the first step on the road to a movie strike of its own.
Equity formally gave six-months notice May 1 to terminate its film contract with British producers.
It wants to negotiate a new contract which gives Brit actors to right to continuing payments from ancillary revenues, including TV and video/DVD.
SAG is campaigning to have its residuals increased, whereas Equity is still trying to establish the right of British actors to any residuals at all for feature films.
At the moment, British film actors are paid a flat rate which gives them no access to residuals.
According to Equity’s Martin Brown, this means that while American actors working on “Mission: Impossible 2,” which shot in the U.K., have so far earned a total of $1.8 million in residual payments under the existing SAG contract, their British counterparts on the same movie have earned exactly nothing.
The current Equity contract dates from Dec. 1998. Unlike the SAG contracts, which expire after a fixed term and must be regularly renegotiated, Equity agreements continue indefinitely unless one side or the other gives six months notice to terminate.
Brown said that PACT, the body which reps producers, has ignored repeated requests by Equity to discuss the issue.
“We really wanted to have friendly and open talks,” he said. “We understand that the British film industry is different from the American one.”