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End Of The Hollywood Strike: Actors And Studios Reach An Agreement

It’s over. Hollywood has put an end to the nightmare that has kept the industry on edge for 118 days. The U.S. actors’ strike that began in July is coming to an end. After 15 intense days of negotiations, the negotiating committee of SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement signed “unanimously,” as announced in a statement, explaining that the strike will end definitively on Thursday, November 9.

The agreement will improve both the minimum wage of workers and the contributions to their pension funds. The so-called residual payments (those received by performers after the broadcast of their series and films on television, and now also on the streaming platforms) will be increased, and there will be new rules regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI), as reported exclusively by the Los Angeles Times. As already happened in the screenwriters’ strike, the 160,000 actors of the union will have to vote on the deal on Friday, after which the details of the agreement will be known. In the writers’ case, 99% of the union members approved the proposal.

Getting to this point has been a long and complex journey, but finally both sides have reached a satisfactory agreement. The beginning of the end of the deadlock began on Tuesday, October 24, a date marked in red in the diaries of the entire film industry when, after 103 days of the strike action, negotiations were resumed.

Representatives of the actors’ union sat down for talks with the four heads of four major studios. Disney’s Bob Iger was the instigator of the conversation after calling the head of negotiations, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, on October 21 and inviting him to return to the table. Iger was joined by Ted Sarandos of Netflix, Donna Langley of Universal and David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Since then, a substantial improvement in the conditions offered by the large companies to the actors was already expected.

No conclusions were reached on that day, though. SAG-AFTRA committed to reconvene the following day but then decided to delay by a further 24 hours. As the union explained in a communiqué, they preferred to take the extra day to “review the proposal made by the studios” before resuming the negotiation.

Thursday and Friday of that week produced very productive meetings, according to the few leaks that have reached the media. On October 28, The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and SAG-AFTRA held meetings again, this time telematically. There was no rest on Sunday, when SAG-AFTRA assured its members in a letter that on Monday both sides would continue to work, albeit separately. On November 1, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher posted a video on social networks speaking of “strength, not anger, optimism, not negativity,” adding she was “getting ready now to go to work.”

On the 2nd and 3rd of November, reports indicated that the end was imminent. And so it was announced on Saturday the 4th. The whole thing dragged on, especially on the issue of artificial intelligence, which kept the parties at the table all day Monday and Tuesday. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, just before five o’clock, the agreement was reached.

The specialized press has said that the intention of the big content creators is to save what’s left of the season, but especially to prevent the stoppages extending into the New Year. The awards season is about to begin, some of the biggest premieres of 2023 are underway or imminent, and the studios see it as essential that the actors are available to promote them. Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon barely grossed $23 million on its opening weekend at the U.S. box office, despite being one of the biggest releases of the season.

At its premiere at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood in mid-October, there was hardly any media as the movies stars, among them Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, were absent. The next installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise, scheduled for 2024, has already been postponed to 2025, as has the remake of Snow White.

Actors have a collective bargaining agreement that is renewed every three years. The signing of the 2020 agreement, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, was a mere formality, so in the 2023 agreement the intention was to push for profound changes, such as salary improvements and a regulation on artificial intelligence. But the positions between SAG-AFTRA, which represents over 160,000 actors in the U.S., and the studios became so far removed that the union called a strike on July 13. It wasn’t until October 3 that the two parties decided to sit down again to discuss the issue.

There were meetings and negotiations but talks broke down 10 days later. According to SAG-AFTRA, the studios — grouped within the AMPTP — offered a financial proposal that was even lower than at the outset of the negotiations. “Our determination is unwavering,” the union said, while accusing the studios of using “bully tactics.” “We have sacrificed too much to capitulate to their stonewalling and greed,” said Drescher.

The union presented a plan to increase the minimum wage for actors, which implied an outlay of $800 million a year for the studios, at a rate of 57 cents per subscriber. However, the studios rejected the proposal. Last week, George Clooney, accompanied by other actors such as Meryl Streep and Emma Stone, tabled a proposal whereby A-listers would pay higher fees to raise some $50 million a year to help their colleagues.

Although Drescher thanked them for the initiative, she pointed out that it would not be legal as contributions to salaries, health plans, and pensions can only be made by employers.

After more than 100 days of strike action, the public image of the actors’ union is beginning to take a hit, particularly after the backlash against prohibiting actors from dressing up on Halloween as the fictional characters of the platforms and companies they are demonstrating against.

Little House on the Prairie actress Melissa Gilbert, who was SAG-AFTRA president between 2001 and 2005, harshly criticized that decision. “Do you really think this kind of infantile stuff is going to end the strike? We look like a joke,” she said on social media. “Please tell me you’re going to make this rule go away… and go negotiate!… This is the kind of silly bullsh*t that keeps us on strike.”

The strike has left immense losses, both labor and economic, in the film industry, in the State of California and in the whole country. The first actors’ strike since 1980 — back then it lasted 95 days; this time it was the first time actors and screenwriters protested at the same time since 1960 — has been tough from day one, and is estimated to leave losses of $4 billion, according to the most optimistic estimates, and as much as $7 billion in the worst ones.


Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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