It’s a new day in Hollywood. Six months after the first of two strikes brought the entertainment capital to a grinding halt, the industry is finally ready to spring back to life.
SAG-AFTRA, the union representing more than 150,000 screen actors who have been on the picket lines since July, reached a tentative contract agreement Wednesday with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, a trade group that represents the leading studios and streamers. (The organization bargains on behalf of Comcast, the parent company of NBC News.)
The deal, which still needs to be approved by the union’s board, would revive a business that has been paralyzed since May, when Writers Guild of America members announced they were going on strike for the first time in 16 years. Los Angeles, New York and other media hubs will be on steadier economic footing, and rank-and-file entertainment workers can breathe a sigh of relief.
The end of the strife is also good news for audiences who might have noticed some changes to their entertainment diet recently, such as an unusually light fall television lineup. In the coming months, assuming the contract agreement holds, viewers around the world may start to see the fruits of Hollywood’s labor once again. Here’s what to expect:
Rolling! Big-ticket movies, shows gear up to resume filming
When tens of thousands of actors headed to the picket lines July 14, production on a slate of high-profile film projects such as Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator 2” and the eighth installment in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise went dark. If the SAG-AFTRA contract is approved as expected, cameras could start rolling again before year’s end, though details need to be ironed out.
“We’re going to work on getting our productions up and running soon,” an industry source said, adding that there was no “definite answer on exactly when, considering a lot of logistics go into it.”
Meanwhile, small-screen favorites such as NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” might get back on track in short order, partly because writers have been cleared to crank out new episodic scripts for more than six weeks and the creation of TV shows tends to move more quickly than filmmaking.
“Abbott Elementary” creator and star Quinta Brunson was flooded with questions on X overnight, with users demanding to know when the third season of the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom will return. When asked whether “Abbott” would start filming soon, Brunson replied with a one-second clip of social media personality Tokyo Toni saying: “Well, yes!”
Full-court press: A-list stars back in action on the media circuit
SAG-AFTRA rules prohibited members from promoting movies and TV shows in any way during the strike, which meant that actors went 118 days without plugging their work on late-night comedy shows, TikTok and Instagram, where young stars like Zendaya (featured in the postponed movies “Dune: Part Two” and “Challengers”) have large followings.
The end of the actors strike will almost certainly open up the floodgates on celebrity self-promotion. Timothée Chalamet can tout the December debut of “Wonka” when he hosts NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” this weekend; Oscar hopefuls Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”), Emma Stone (“Poor Things”), and Jeffrey Wright (“American Fiction”) can hit the talk show circuit.
Michelle Buteau, the star and co-creator of the Netflix series “Survival of the Thickest,” didn’t get much of a chance to promote the series because it premiered just a day before the actors strike started. In tweets Thursday, Buteau and co-star Garcelle Beauvais acknowledged the show for seemingly the first time.
Albert Brooks, the legendary comedian and actor who is the subject of a new HBO documentary, captured the mood in a tweet just minutes after news of the SAG-AFTRA deal broke: “The SAG strike is over!! I can finally say it: watch my documentary Saturday night at 8 on HBO/MAX! I can’t wait for you to see it! Couldn’t say a word until now!!”
Coming attractions: Hollywood’s development pipeline running again
The increasingly shaky economics of streaming businesses mean that many studios are likely to cut back on content spending in the coming year, but there will still be a lot of new scripts, deals and rumors flying around the entertainment world — including announcements about actors landing roles in buzzy projects.
“The casting news that we’re gonna get in the next couple weeks before Thanksgiving in the U.S. is gonna be biblical,” Johnny Sobczak, a film critic and writer, tweeted Wednesday night. He noted that news could soon drop about the on-screen talent lined up for the third season of HBO’s “The White Lotus” and Marvel’s reboot of the “Fantastic Four” franchise, for example.
In tweets, some workaday actors are already posting headshots as they try to book work. “CC: casting,” one actor said in a photo caption.
Meanwhile, studios are expected to put a fleet of new movies and shows into development as they try to make up for lost time. The show must go on, after all.