Contract talks between studios and actors unions will resume next Wednesday, 10 days after breaking off.
A joint statement issued Friday gave no further details about the negotiations, citing an ongoing news blackout.
The current film-TV contract for SAG and AFTRA with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers doesn’t expire until June 30, so there remains five months in which to make a deal without a work stoppage. But should a deal not be forthcoming in the next few weeks, the stalemate’s likely to generate a flurry of production activity in order to stockpile against a possible strike.
Studios and nets ramped up production during the first half of 2001 when first the Writers Guild and then the actors unions took bargaining down to the wire. After SAG and AFTRA settled that deal in July 2001, production activity plunged and created what many observors termed a de facto strike.
The unions and the AMPTP launched the current talks Dec. 6. Knowledgeable sources have said the producers remain intractable in their resistance to SAG and AFTRA seeking an increase in the 20-year-old formula for homevideo residuals.
The unions have been spurred by the soaring revenues for DVDs. The companies have insisted that spiraling costs of filmmaking and marketing make the DVD monies essential to remain in the black, thus precluding any change in payout formulas.
SAG and AFTRA had been expected to opt for contracts similar to those reached by DGA and WGA last fall. Those deals included gains about $60 million over three years, with two-thirds of that coming in the form of increased producer contributions to health care, but no gains on DVDs.