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DGA, AMPTP Reach Tentative Agreement

24 Sep, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have reached a tentative three-year contract deal with DGA negotiators opting not to rock the boat on DVD residuals.

“After careful consideration and intensive research, our view is that this is the wrong issue at the wrong time for our guild,” DGA president Michael Apted said. “The reality is that our members are earning unprecedented residuals. Residuals for our members have grown from $36 million in 1984 to $225 million in 2003. Since 2000 alone, home video residuals for our members, including DVD, have grown from $29 million to $53 million — a 54 percent increase. In fact, in the last year alone, our members' home video residuals have grown by 35 percent.

“We saw a residual system that paid our members without regard to the performance of their films. Directors have continued to receive substantial residuals payments whether or not their pictures are profitable,” Apted said. “The current formula ensures that all our members are being compensated for the reuse of their work. At this time, we do not feel that it is worth risking this system that rewards all of our members.”

The DGA Creative Rights Committee, led by co-chairs Steven Soderbergh and Jonathan Mostow, did win some “new protections for directors of feature film and longform television in connection with DVD releases,” but details were not immediately available. Complete details of the agreement will not be disclosed until after the guild's national board votes on them at its regular meeting Oct. 2. If the board approves, the deal will go to a vote of the full membership.

“We walked into negotiations with two goals in mind: getting the best possible deal for our members and keeping our members and the industry working,” said Gil Cates, the DGA's negotiating committee chairman.

“Rather than focus our energy in an area where seeking change is both complex and risky, and where our members are already prospering, we addressed the most pressing concern affecting all our members: ensuring that their health care is protected,” he said.

Nick Counter, president of the AMPTP, commended DGA leaders for “their commitment and thoughtful approach to complex and crucial issues.

“Early negotiations allowed us to reach a fair and equitable deal while preserving the stability of the industry,” he said.

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