Hollywood: US actors are on strike - Solidarity from Germany

After more than 60 years, the actors and screenwriters in the USA are on strike together again and are likely to paralyze operations in Hollywood indefinitely.

Hollywood: US actors are on strike - Solidarity from Germany

After more than 60 years, the actors and screenwriters in the USA are on strike together again and are likely to paralyze operations in Hollywood indefinitely. In the fight for better pay and regulations for the use of artificial intelligence, the walkout began on Friday morning at 00:01 local time Los Angeles (09:01 CEST), according to the actors' union SAG-AFTRA. The union announced the start of the strike with a black image via Twitter. The last time there was such a double strike in the United States was in 1960.

The first effects are already being felt in Germany, as Hollywood stars Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie are staying away from a PR appointment for the "Barbie" film in Berlin this Saturday. Statements of solidarity came from the stars for their many significantly less well-paid colleagues. At a premiere of the "Barbie" film in London, Robbie reportedly said she "strongly supports all unions". Director Greta Gerwig said she "really wants them to stay strong and win their fight."

It was expected that in the USA numerous actors would join the screenwriters during the day, who had been on strike with signs and chants in Los Angeles and New York since the beginning of May. The actors' strike was officially decided on Thursday after weeks of negotiations and no agreement could be reached with the Association of TV and Film Studios AMPTP.

The German acting association supports the actors' strike. "They get full solidarity from us. We have the same problems in the German industry," said board member Hans-Werner Meyer of the German Press Agency on Friday. However, the situation in the German acting industry is not yet so acute. Negotiations are still going on at all levels. "We're not at the point where we have to go on strike." The association claims to represent the professional and trade union interests of actors in Germany.

Gosling ("La La Land", "Blade Runner 2049") and Robbie ("I, Tonya", "Bombshell – The End of Silence") will not appear on the red carpet in Berlin for the "Barbie" premiere. There is also no press conference in the afternoon. According to the agency, the premiere in the Berlinale Palace should still take place - but without the main actors. The film will start in German cinemas next Thursday (July 20).

According to US media, hardly any films and series can now be shot. With a few exceptions, all filming with actors in front of the camera would now have to be stopped, according to SAG-AFTRA. In addition, union members are also not allowed to do any work behind the camera, such as dubbing, or promote their films and series through advertising appearances and interviews. The union announced that it would tightly control these conditions.

What about AI?

It will be some time before moviegoers notice the impact of the strikes as most of the year's blockbusters have already finished filming. But in the TV sector, the effect should unfold more quickly. The scriptwriters' strike had already hit the industry: In the United States, reruns of late-night shows are already being aired and a large number of television and film productions have stopped or suspended work. If the double strike drags on for months, new seasons of popular shows could be delayed.

The German trade union is also capable of going into industrial action, emphasized board member Meyer. "In Germany, too, dissatisfaction with salaries is increasing." There are multiple reasons for this: on the one hand, the local actors and actresses felt the inflation. And on the other hand, not only many streaming services are under massive pressure. "The public broadcasters save on television and instead produce for the media library," said Meyer.

Like the US actors' union, Meyer criticizes the lack of regulation of artificial intelligence (AI). The studios have so far refused to do so. "This affects all of our futures and harbors the greatest potential for conflict," says Meyer. The problem is that AI is being fed copyrighted material for which the creators are not being compensated. Conversely, that makes the authors superfluous, according to Meyer. There is already software on the market that can imitate dubbing or audio book voices. "It's unclear how much this will affect actors and actresses, but the concern is real."