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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
UK actors opt for strike
Nicole Kidman with Ewan McGregor
McGregor is currently starring in Moulin Rouge
The UK film industry could be brought to a standstill after actors' union Equity instructed its members to refuse work on all UK feature films from December.

The union has been negotiating with film studios over rights for bonus payments for more than a year.

Simon Callow
Simon Callow appeared in hit film Shakespeare in Love
Julie Walters and Ewan McGregor are among the household names who have pledged their support to the campaign.

The decision, taken on Tuesday, affects more than 36,000 actors in the UK.

If the strike goes ahead, it could affect production on high-profile films such as the latest James Bond movie.

However, the union is currently in separate negotiation with Warner Bros over a sequel to the first Harry Potter film.

A spokesman for Equity told BBC News Online: "Equity council has issued an instruction to all Equity members to refuse contracts for work on all UK feature films from the 1 December onwards."


Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor, pledging his support, said he was "tired of making producers and distributors rich while I and my fellow actors are exploited".

A host of other actors including Simon Callow, Ricky Tomlinson and Caroline Quentin have also added their support.

The spokesman added: "The last thing we want to do is damage UK feature film production and the last thing we want to do is damage UK actors' ability to get work on feature films."

Equity is pushing to renegotiate a contract with the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact) over rights for bonus payments.

At the moment British actors receive one flat fee in advance when their films are shown on television, or sold on video or DVD.

Julie Walters
Oscar-winner Julie Walters is backing Equity
But they get nothing extra for further screenings of their work, unlike their American counterparts.

Equity wants financial rewards to be linked to the success of individual films.

PACT said in a statement that it "regrets" the Equity move.

"We believe that such a move will in itself will deter investment in, and reduce film production in, the UK," the statement said.

Toward the end of August PACT offered to introduce a system of payments linked to a film's use.

But Equity is not happy that performers would actually see any extra money in the near future and rejected the offer triggering a final consultation process leading to a possible strike.

Equity acknowledged that PACT has moved someway to meeting the union's demands and is hopeful of continued negotiations.

The BBC's Rosie Millard
"We need to have big films in this country"
The BBC's Rebecca Jones
"Seven hundred actors in this country are supporting this campaign"
See also:

05 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Equity anger at Soapstars
29 May 01 | Film
Equity threatens strike action
29 Aug 01 | Film
Hollywood slump hits UK film
01 Jun 01 | Film
Equity pay talks begin
18 Sep 01 | Film
Film industry's strike dread
21 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Ealing for the 21st Century
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