Donna Langley is speaking out on the ongoing SAG-AFTRA negotiations, saying the studio side will spend “as much time as necessary” in the negotiating room until the parties can reach a resolution.
While he declined to speak in detail during a scheduled appearance at Bloomberg’s Screentime event on Wednesday, the chairman and chief content officer of NBCUniversal Studio Group nonetheless said: “I think the best way I could put it is that we have time have spent with the actors. and we want to spend as much time as necessary until we can reach a resolution and get the industry back on its feet and back to work, as our goals have been since day one.” The director was interviewed by Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles.
On the potential that the SAG-AFTRA strike could linger and impact her studio’s summer movies, Langley said, “I don’t enjoy the thought of a summer season without a large slate of movies. If I learned anything during COVID, it was the lack of volume. It really affects the cadence of the film. And we only saw a recovery from this in the summer of 2023, with that 5 percent less. And if we lose that, it will have a very lasting, meaningful and not-good impact on our industry.”
Earlier that day, the executive branch had attended the final round of negotiations for a new three-year SAG-AFTRA contract that could end the union’s ongoing strike, which has now lasted nearly three months. She was joined on the studio side by Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Disney CEO Bob Iger.
On October 2, SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP negotiators resumed negotiations for the first time since the artists’ union strike. Since then, the two sides have been negotiating on and off, with studio leaders – Sarandos, Zaslav, Iger and Langley – once again present in the discussions, as they were during the final days of the 2023 Writers Guild of America negotiations. Their presence has raised hopes that the parties can soon reach an agreement and end the actors’ strike, which has essentially resulted in a domestic moratorium on union production, except in cases where the union has an interim agreement offered.
However, there are still many issues that both parties need to work through. With these negotiations, SAG-AFTRA has made a bold proposal to allow casts of successful streaming projects to receive a cut of platforms’ subscription revenue. Before re-entering the negotiating room in early October, the two sides had also failed to agree on AI regulations, minimum rate increases and a host of other issues.
Starting July 14, the SAG-AFTRA strike has wreaked havoc on the industry for months. A concurrent Writers Guild of America strike that lasted 148 days ended on September 27, but most major physical production has yet to return without union actors. Entertainment employment has fallen by 45,000 jobs since the WGA strike began in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Oct. 6.