The Hollywood strike has a lot to do with AI

As Hollywood shuts down, strikers worry over how studios could replace them with AI.

strike signs

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2023/07/14: Members of Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild rally on picket line at NBC Studios on Rockefeller Center. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are officially on strike together for the first time in 63 years.

But in addition to concerns over improved benefits, wages, and working conditions, one is distinctly modern — how studios will use AI.

Literally a “Black Mirror” episode

With some media publications already replacing writers with AI, it’s no wonder the WGA would want guardrails in place.

Stranger still, SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland claimed the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the studio execs it represents want to use AI to create scans of background performers. The performers would get paid for a day of work, but studios would be able to use scans whenever they wanted.

This exact thing happens to Salma Hayek in “Joan is Awful,” an episode of “Black Mirror.”

Background actors — who typically play nonspeaking roles to fill scenes, (e.g.,customers at a coffee shop, students in a school, etc.) — make an average of $38.5k per year, per Indeed.


… has denied these claims, but some allege actor scans are already happening.

Tech has also been used to de-age actors, even in instances where actors have died. Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, “appeared” in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

How does the strike affect everyone else?

With much TV and film production shut down, people who work in other parts of the entertainment industry are also out of work.

Even Los Angeles-area restaurants that provide catering or play host to industry meetings and events are feeling it, with some reporting up to 40% dips in revenue, per The Los Angeles Times.

For the rest of us, we may have to wait longer for our fave shows and movies. Already delayed are “Stranger Things,” “Andor,” “Severance,” and Captain America: Brave New World, among others.

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