SAG signs interim pact

Guild aims to pact with indies

After two days of contract negotiations with the majors, the Screen Actors Guild is looking to put some pressure on the studios by signing interim deals with indie feature producers that would allow actors to continue working on select projects even if a strike occurs.

The Film Department, Mark Gill and Neil Sacker’s year-old shingle, announced late Wednesday that it had reached pacts with SAG for nine pics. But the majors are unlikely to react to SAG’s manuever, as Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers member congloms have been steadfastly holding off on starting any projects until after a deal with the guild is clinched.

SAG’s guaranteed completion contracts are available only to independent feature productions that have neither financing nor distribution deals with any AMPTP-repped company.

The Film Department pics include writer-director Bart Freundlich’s romantic comedy “The Rebound,” starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha. Production starts next week in New York City. Others are “Law-Abiding Citizen,” a thriller starring Gerard Butler, which starts production Aug. 11; WWII thriller “Brothers in Arms,” directed by Marcel Langenegger and set for late summer/early fall in the Czech Republic; “The Other Side of Paradise,” the story of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, with production in late summer/earlyfall; and romantic comedy “Earthbound.”

“We’re thrilled to have reached these agreements with SAG, with every indication of significant benefit for their members and for our filmmakers who have worked so hard to get their movies ready for production,” Gill said. “Effectively, this allows our films to proceed into preproduction in April, May and June against production starts in July, August and September — a time during which production volume looks likely to be down by at least 50 films, as the studios are currently unable to proceed.”

The signing of the “guaranteeed completion contracts” signals that SAG’s not expecting a quick resolution to the talks. The negotiations began Tuesday at AMPTP headquarters in Encino and continued Wednesday with minimal public disclosure as to the substance of the bargaining.

SAG and the AMPTP plan to negotiate every day — except for Sundays — through April 26. The majors will then launch talks with rival actors union AFTRA on April 28.

The guild’s decision to pursue interim agreements is a strong indication that the sides have considerable ground to cover before a new three-year contract is reached. However, reps for SAG and the AMPTP have so far refrained from the kind of public criticism of each other that characterized the AMPTP’s early bargaining seshes with the WGA last fall. Plans are for the sides to issue a joint statement at the end of each day; after the first day of talks on Tuesday, SAG and the AMPTP said only that initial proposals were exchanged.

SAG first announced in early March that it was offering the contracts to independent feature producers, under which producers would agree to observe the terms and conditions of any SAG interim deal that would be offered during a strike. By signing such a contract, indie producers would not have to worry about a strike shutting down their productions.

The prospect of an actors strike hitting after the current SAG contract expires June 30 spurred a ramp-up in feature production at the majors last year and earlier this year. Production schedules have been designed so that shooting’s completed by mid-June — with insurers insisting they won’t issue completion bonds for projects that can’t be completed by that deadline.

The WGA signed more than 20 interim deals during its strike as a way of gaining leverage over the congloms. Companies agreed in advance to adhere to terms of the guild’s final contract agreement.

The first WGA interim pact was signed in late December by David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants. The guild eventually signed Lionsgate, RKO, Marvel, Weinstein Co., United Artists, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Spyglass Entertainment, Media Rights Capital, Jackson Bites, Film Department, Intermedia. and Mandate.

More Scene

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content