How Film Sales at Fall Festivals May Be Impacted by SAG-AFTRA Interim Agreements

How Film Sales at Fall Festivals May Be Impacted by SAG-AFTRA Interim Agreements

Amid the dual Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes, Hollywood is getting ready for a very different fall festival season. And now the industry is getting more clarity as to how SAG-AFTRA’s interim agreements could affect the film sales out of these festivals.

Buyers of films that have signed interim agreements will need to adhere to the terms laid out in the agreements, said SAG chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree Ireland on Tuesday. If streamers agree to these interim agreements for publicity purposes, they would indeed be signing on to SAG-AFTRA’s requirement that actors for streaming projects receive 2 percent of subscription revenue produced by those projects according to a metric from Parrot Analytics.

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“The contract contains assumption provisions,” said Crabtree-Ireland, adding that distributors will “assume the obligation to pay the residuals required by the contract.” The negotiator conceded that he didn’t think it likely that streamers would be eager to acquire projects that have signed the interim agreement: “The likelihood that an AMPTP (company) is going to platform projects that they are going to have to pay for revenue share on during the strike is in my view minimal or nonexistent.”

Of course, the deal terms would only last for as long as the strike lasts. Ultimately, the Interim Agreement terms will revert, “on a going-forward basis,” according to Crabtree-Ireland, to those in SAG-AFTRA’s new TV/theatrical three-year agreement once management and labor come to terms.

Companies, both studios and streamers, that buy projects that have interim agreements would also need to adhere (even if only temporarily, until a final new three-year contract is ratified) to SAG-AFTRA’s residual asks in this negotiations. Those include higher residual payments, a requirement to separately report domestic and foreign grosses for the purposes of residuals and paying residuals to stunt coordinators. They would also need to increase SAG-AFTRA minimum wage rates by 11 percent and would have to include performance-capture artists as union performers.

Industry insiders have expressed concern about how this stipulation will affect the film markets out of festivals like Venice and Toronto. The thinking being that the major buyers from Netflix to Disney — all members of the AMPTP — will be unwilling to buy in-production projects or finished films that have signed interim agreements that are governed by terms that they have already shot down.

Michael Mann’s Venice-bound Ferrari is the most notable example of a finished film being granted an agreement, allowing stars Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz to walk the red carpet and do press out of the festival. (Mann’s Ferrari has already been acquired by Neon for distribution in North America; Neon is not a member of the AMPTP.) Many Venice and Toronto-bound projects have applied for interim agreements but their status is unclear.

SAG held the press conference after the union announced on Monday afternoon that, moving forward, the performers’ union will not be offering interim agreements to projects covered by a Writers Guild of America contract that are also produced in the U.S.