The SAG-AFTRA strike explained – Which movies and shows will be affected?

Lucy-Jo Finnighan

The SAG-AFTRA actors strike is now in full force. But for those who don’t know exactly what this means, here’s a quick guide.

Hollywood has been in turmoil these past few months, from the WGA strike that began in May, to the “historic director’s deal,” and now actors are joining the fight against exploitative executives.

SAG-AFTRA – a combination of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – is the world’s largest performer and broadcasters union, representing more than 160,000  media artists. It is this union that is leading the actor’s strike in the US.

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But what are the demands of the strikers, who is leading the strikes, and which shows and movies will be affected? Read on, and we’ll explain.


Newest strike updates

As of November 9, 2023, the SAG-AFTRA strike is over, with an 86% vote. Read more about the results of the strike here.

When did the actors strike begin?

The strike began on Thursday, July 13, 2023. This will be the first SAG-AFTRA strike since 1980.

SAG-AFTRA members authorized a vote with 97.91% support in June for negotiation terms. The union then formally announced on the Thursday that it was going on strike after its contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers expired without negotiating a deal.

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The strike actually began midway through the London premiere of summer blockbuster Oppenheimer, causing all of its stars to exit the event early.

As stated by film’s director Christopher Nolan, “[They left] for what we believe to be an imminent strike by SAG, joining one of my guilds, the Writers Guild, in the struggle for fair wages for working members of the unions, and we support them.”

Why are actors striking in the US?

The strikes began after negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP – meaning major studios like Disney, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount, and Warner Bros. – went poorly in the actors’ favor. Thus, according to the union, striking is now the only way to try and have their demands met.

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The main issues brought up in negotiations included the decline of workers’ residuals and compensation due to the medium of streaming – a problem which is also being contended by the WGA strikes – along with Hollywood company plans to use performers for one day, scan them, and then use their AI likeness in future projects without pay or even consent.

As part of the strike, actors can no longer work on any major feature films or scripted television, and they cannot promote any of their projects that fall under those current contracts.

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As SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a speech, “We had no choice. We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us. I cannot believe it. Quite frankly, how far apart we are on so many things. How they plead our money, that they’re losing money left and right when giving hundreds of millions of dollars to their CEOs. It is disgusting. Shame on them.”

Have Hollywood studios responded to the strikes?

Yes, but so far only A24 is the biggest studio to accept the union’s terms. While some representatives from studios have “expressed a desire to return to the bargaining table,” a lot of said studios have previously dismissed the strikes.

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“This is the Union’s choice, not ours,” the AMPTP stated to NPR. “Rather than continuing to negotiate, SAG-AFTRA has put us on a course that will deepen the financial hardship for thousands who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.”

AMPTP has defended its negotiations with the union prior to the strike, claiming that it presented a protective deal which included “historic pay increases” and a “ground-breaking AI proposal.”

As for specific Hollywood executives, Disney CEO Bob Iger has described SAG-AFTRA’s demands as “not realistic” and “disturbing” to Variety.

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US networks have begun to deal with the lack of new media by expanding the amount of unscripted content in their fall schedules, including The Masked Singer, The Amazing Race, Survivor, and Kitchen Nightmares.

Which movies and TV shows will be delayed?

Basically, if any upcoming media has actors who are part of SAG, it will be affected – if they weren’t already affected by the WGA strike.

The list of projects being delayed is currently ever-growing. Therefore, the list of TV shows delayed includes, but is not limited to:

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Movies that will likely be delayed by the strikes include:

The strikes also mean that a lot of film and TV promotion will be halted. No more Emmy campaigns, Comic Con panels or interviews about an actor’s current projects, no Venice or Toronto film festivals – and no more Barbie pink carpets.

What Hollywood work can continue – Is journalism allowed?

Surprisingly, multiple popular shows will continue. This includes HBO’s House of the Dragon Season 2, as its actors are covered by the UK union Equity, as opposed to SAG. Due to British labor laws, Equity actors are not allowed to strike in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 2 will also continue filming amid the strike, Variety reports.

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Many A24 projects can still go ahead, as can Taylor Swift’s Era’s Tour movie, as the smaller studio and singer are actually listening to and agreeing with SAG-AFTRA’s demands – especially since Swift is a member of SAG.

As for mediums that won’t be affected, unscripted television such as talk shows, reality or gaming competitions, soap operas, and non-theatrically released documentaries will be allowed to continue due to being covered by different contracts.

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Actors can still work on commercials and sponsored influencer content, along with television animation, sound recordings and audiobooks, music videos, video games, podcasts, educational content, and broadcast news, according to the official SAG-AFTRA guidance. However, they cannot discuss previous work that happened under the opposing studios.

Theater performers will also not take part in the strike, because stage acting is mainly done through the union Actors’ Equity, not SAG-AFTRA. Therefore, Broadway will not be affected, and screen actors can still perform onstage.

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This also means that theme park performers, including the ones performing at the Haunted Manion premiere, are not breaking the strike.

“Micro-budget” independent films and student films will be allowed, and independent producers who aren’t part of the AMPTP can apply for interim agreements for their own projects, as stated by the union.

As for how TV and Movies journalism plays into all of this, this is what SAG-AFTRA had to say:

Are the WGA strike and the SAG-AFTRA strike connected?

This is the first time that writers and actors are striking together since 1960, when Ronald Reagan himself was SAG president.

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Striking workers are always more powerful when working together, so the past few months of the WGA strikes likely inspired the SAG-AFTRA strikes – both areas in Hollywood have been boiling to the brim over the past few years. And recent worrying comments by studio executives towards the WGA strike may have pushed actors into action.

After the announcement of the actors strike, members of the Writers Guild of America immediately began showing their support in the midst of their picket line. Actors had also been showing their support for the writers prior to their own strike.

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As stated by Scott Moore – co-writer of The Hangover and Bad Moms – to the New York Times, “People like pretty faces. Actors will be better looking than writers, and we might get more attention.”

We’ll be sure to keep you updated as the story progresses. For all the latest entertainment news, be sure to check out our page here.

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About The Author

Lucy-Jo is a Movies and TV Writer at Dexerto, and has previously written for Screen Rant and Girls on Tops. After earning a Master's Degree in Film and Literature, Lucy-Jo now loves covering films, TV shows, and anime, especially if it's something by Mike Flanagan, or anything drenched in camp. You can contact her at