Studios Not Willing to Accept Contract Demands by Actors

Major Hollywood studios said Wednesday they were not willing to accept demands for what they called huge pay raises sought by the Screen Actors Guild in contract talks.

In a release posted on its Web site, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said after 13 days of talks, significant gaps remain between the two sides.

The alliance of major studios and networks also blamed the problems on the guild's insistence on doubling fees for DVD sales and demands for "huge increases in compensation and benefits."

SAG officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The statement was the most public sign of discord in the talks.

The actors contract is set to expire on June 30. Both sides have said they want to avoid a replay of the 100-day writers strike that shut down TV production and caused an estimated $2.5 billion in economic losses in the Los Angeles area.

The situation has caused a delay in some movie production as producers worry that a possible strike could disrupt shooting, according to a person familiar with the issue who was not authorized to speak publicly and sought anonymity.

In its statement, the studio alliance offered a point-by-point rebuttal of recent statements the guild has made to its members.

In particular, the studios challenged a proposed restructuring of the formula for residual fees for actors from DVD sales, which it said would double the current $500 million that actors would receive over three years if the current formula was unchanged.

"The DVD market is flat, and this is no time to be adding significant new costs to the ability of producers to do business in this sector," the alliance said.

The studios also rebutted the guild's claims that actors pay was declining.

Actors pay for theatrical-release movies rose 6 percent in 2007 from a year earlier to $596 million, and increased 1 percent to $705 million for television appearances, according to alliance estimates.

The alliance said the actors guild had requested 70 changes to the contract framework previously accepted by writers and directors for content distributed over new media — "some of which would go a long way toward making the framework itself unworkable."

A smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, is set to begin talks with the alliance on Monday.

"We still have two days of negotiations remaining with SAG, and we are going to continue to work as hard as we can to find a mutually acceptable resolution," the alliance said.