The Directors Guild of America said it has agreed to begin contract negotiations with the body that represents the big Hollywood studios, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
The guild’s current minimum basic agreement with the AMPTP — which represents studios such as Walt Disney and Warner Bros. but also Amazon and Apple —expires June 30.
The two parties said in a statement that they had agreed to enter into formal contract negotiations beginning Monday but would not comment beyond that.
The move is the first in what is expected to be a wave of high-stakes negotiations this year between the studios and the three big unions representing directors, actors and writers.
The DGA, which has more than 18,000 members, often prefers to begin negotiations well in advance of when contracts expire in order to avoid creating instability.
Hollywood’s major unions are negotiating at a time of upheaval in the industry and dissatisfaction over how the profits of the content they create are being distributed.
Although these agreements are renegotiated every three years, some believe there is heightened risk of a strike by writers. The Writers Guild of America has been in a months-long fight with major talent agencies over so-called packaging fees and other long-standing industry practices.
The WGA will soon vote on a list of requests that will come up in its negotiations, called the pattern of demands. Its contract expires May 1.
SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors and performers, also has a contract that expires on June 30.
The DGA negotiated a contract in 2017 that gave its members a bigger slice of growing profits in the entertainment industry by increasing residual payments from streaming and increasing wages. The deal more than tripled residuals for members working on original content for the biggest streaming companies.