Negotiations for a new three-year contract covering hundreds of feature film animators at the Walt Disney Animation Studios will get underway Wednesday. In years past, the contract with IATSE has covered the animators, storyboard artists and writers behind such films as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Disney’s upcoming Zootopia also was shot under the contract.
The current contract, which had been set to expire last October 31, was extended at Disney’s request. It’s the only major film industry contract that will be negotiated until the three-year cycle of DGA, WGA and SAG-AFTRA contract talks begin again next year, followed by the IATSE, Teamsters Local 399 and Basic Crafts in 2018.
The Disney Animation Studios contract is similar to the pact that the Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839, has with the rest of the industry but is negotiated by its parent union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
The pact, known as “The Secret Lab” contract, first was negotiated in 1999 and derives its name from the nickname given to Disney’s internal visual effects unit after Disney purchased the visual effects house Dream Quest Images and merged it with its animated feature film unit.
Contract talks are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday and then will recess until January 25.