What strike?

As negotiations opened last week between actors and studios, confidence overtook the industry to the point that hopes emerged that a deal would be done long before the June 30 contract expiration.

Studio execs turned their attention to casting film projects with fall start dates.

SAG even pulled the plug on an “external” contract campaign, saying it only plans to focus on communicating with members.

“Three or four weeks ago, all anyone talked about was how worried they were about the strikes and what they were going to do,” one agent said. Now, we’re headed back to business as usual.”

Labor analyst Daniel Mitchell, a UCLA professor of management and public policy, said optimism about an early deal may be justified because of the similarities between the WGA and SAG/AFTRA contracts in areas like residuals. “The negotiators are not starting from scratch,” Mitchell noted.

Still, not everyone expects a completed deal soon. SAG chief negotiator Brian Walton declared last week that he expects talks to go up to June 30 and other insiders contend that the notion of an early deal is wishful thinking for two reasons: the need for union negotiators to show members that they held out as long as possible; and the sheer complexity of the process.

“It’s very hard for two teams of 30 people each to reach an early agreement,” a union staffer said.