Bloomberg News, which interviewed me today, and the LA Times are reporting a big shift in the bargaining posture of the Guild in talks with the AMPTP. Most importantly, they appear to have scaled back their demand on DVD residuals from a 100% increase in the rate to a far more modest 15% gain.
As of 4:30 PM today, Variety is reporting that the 15% gain in DVD residuals would flow into the Guild’s pension and health plans NOT directly to actors personally. This is, of course, how residuals are paid to members of the IA. My guess is that this is set up so as to not trigger any “Me Too” or Most Favored Nation clause in the WGA or DGA deals.
A doubling of the rate would hardly have put a dent in the windfall of billions earned by the studios over the years, but in light of the intransigence of the studios on this issue – evidenced by the lack of progress on the issue made by the other unions – it is not a surprise that the Guild was thought by many to be over-reaching.
Presumably, there was an understanding that if the Guild dropped from 100% to 15% there would a genuine likelihood of movement by the studios on other issues. That suggests that negotiations may extend well into next week if the progress continues.
The unanswered question, of course, is what the hard core wing inside Membership First will do. No doubt the Allens were smart enough to run this one up the flagpole first, but who knows how many people that included. The weekend should be an interesting one.