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Actors ratify three-year contract, ending Hollywood's labor turmoil

FILE PHOTO: Hollywood actors and writers on strike outside Disney studios in California

By Danielle Broadway and Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -Members of the SAG-AFTRA actors union approved a three-year contract with major studios on Tuesday, formally ending six months of Hollywood labor disputes that halted film and television production.

SAG-AFTRA said 78% of those who voted supported the deal with Netflix Inc, Walt Disney Co and other members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Just 38% of eligible SAG-AFTRA members cast a ballot, the union said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter. SAG-AFTRA represents roughly 160,000 actors and other media professionals.

The new contract provides for pay raises and streaming bonuses that union leaders said amounted to more than $1 billion over three years. It also includes guardrails around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in filmmaking, though some actors complained that the AI protections were not sufficient.

"This is a golden age for SAG-AFTRA, and our union has never been more powerful," the union's president, "The Nanny" actor Fran Drescher, said in a statement.

SAG-AFTRA members walked off the job in July and reached a tentative agreement with major studios in November. Actors started returning to work immediately after the preliminary deal.

Film and television writers also went on strike this year, walking out ahead of the actors union. After a five-month walkout, the writers approved a new contract in October with 99% of the vote.

Some actors had objected to AI provisions in the contract. The deal requires studios to obtain permission from celebrities to use their digital likenesses and to pay them for the use. Critics argued that the language allows creation of "synthetic performers" that could eliminate the need for many human actors.

The dual strikes shut down a large swath of film and TV production, halted late-night talk shows and forced broadcast networks to fill their fall schedules with repeats and reality shows. Major movies including "Dune: Part Two" and Marvel's "Thunderbolts" also were delayed.

Hollywood studios welcomed the contract ratification, saying the agreement offered "historic gains and protections."

"With this vote, the industry and the jobs it supports will be able to return in full force," the AMPTP said in a statement.

SAG-AFTRA noted that other Hollywood unions representing crew members, musicians and drivers will start negotiations on new contracts next year.

"They will be able to use our groundbreaking gains as leverage in their own bargaining efforts," SAG-AFTRA said.

(Reporting by Danielle Broadway and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler & Shri Navaratnam)

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