Major Actors Union Calls Historic Strike Against Hollywood Studios: Star Trek Productions and Release Dates in Jeopardy

SAG-AFTRA Actors Go on Strike In Hollywood

Los Angeles, CA – The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union has initiated a strike against Hollywood studios for television and film work after failed negotiations. This marks the first general actors’ strike in decades, as the guild believes its members are facing an existential threat. According to the guild, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing the studios including Paramount Global, has failed to recognize the detrimental impact of industry and economic shifts on workers.

The actors have joined the Hollywood writers who went on strike in May, expressing similar concerns such as pay minimums and audition costs. However, the actors also hold unique concerns regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and likeness rights. Reports indicate that the studios have not returned to the negotiating table since the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike and may not do so until fall, hoping the financial pressure on the writers would lead to a deal.

Picketing began on Friday, with actors joining the writers on the picket lines. Michelle Hurd, who stars in “Star Trek: Picard” and serves on the SAG negotiating committee, spoke about the reasons behind the strike, emphasizing the financial struggles faced by actors. This simultaneous strike by both SAG and WGA is historic, as it marks the first time since 1960 that both unions have gone on strike simultaneously, affecting current and upcoming productions in the industry and promotional strategies for previously filmed projects.

Immediate Impacts on Star Trek Productions

The strike will significantly impact the live-action production of “Star Trek.” Three upcoming projects, including the third season of “Strange New Worlds,” the Section 31 streaming movie, and the first season of the new “Starfleet Academy” series, were scheduled for production. However, with the strike, production delays are inevitable, as writing for these projects has already ceased due to the WGA strike. Furthermore, the SAG strike prohibits auditioning and negotiating for roles, hindering any casting processes. These projects will likely be delayed until at least 2025.

On the other hand, production for the fifth and final season of “Star Trek: Discovery” has already been completed and is slated for release in early 2024. However, the SAG strike prevents actors from engaging in additional voice recording (ADR), potentially leading to challenges in fixing dialogue. Producers may have already completed as much ADR as possible, but the release date of the final season might be pushed back to later in 2024. Consequently, there is a possibility that “Discovery” will be the only live-action Star Trek content available for Paramount+ in 2024.

The Animated Series and its Challenges

The impact on animated series such as “Lower Decks” and “Star Trek: Prodigy” presents more complications. Writing and voice work for the fourth season of “Lower Decks” has reportedly been completed, but due to the strikes, the release date may be pushed to the later part of this year. As for “Star Trek: Prodigy,” voice work for the second season is nearly finished, and despite the show’s removal from Paramount+, work on season two continues as the studio explores licensing options with other streamers. The debut of the second season, originally set for winter 2022, is uncertain but not primarily due to the strikes.

Reconsidering Star Trek Plans

The prolonged strike could lead to modifications in Paramount’s plans for the Star Trek franchise, potentially affecting scheduled productions involving writers and actors. The availability of high-demand actors like Michelle Yeoh, following her Oscar-winning performance, may complicate scheduling for projects like the Section 31 movie. Moreover, Paramount might reconsider expansion plans due to pressure from Wall Street to cut costs. While the strike rules disallow discussions of new projects with writers, there remains a possibility of scaling back on the franchise.

In conclusion, the ongoing strikes will result in reduced Star Trek television content in 2024 compared to initial plans, possibly extending into early 2025. The effects on feature films, such as the troubled “Star Trek 4” project, are overshadowed by larger problems but will undoubtedly delay the franchise’s return to the big screen.