The DGA will begin negotiations for a new film and TV contract with management’s AMPTP in early December, the two sides said today. Three years ago, in the last contract cycle, the sides started talks in October and reached a deal in November — a full seven months before the expiration of the film and TV pact. Based on that timeline, negotiations this time around are running a bit behind schedule.

“The parties have agreed that they will continue discussions in the interim to further define the issues before determining whether this will be the official start date for negotiations for the 2017 agreement,” they said in a joint statement. “As is tradition, the DGA and the AMPTP have also agreed that neither organization will comment further to the press regarding negotiations until an announcement has been made.”

The DGA’s current three-year contract runs through June 30, 2017, but the guild is famous for starting — and finishing — negotiations well in advance of the expiration of its major contracts. Wrapping up talks early removes the uncertainty that comes when negotiations go down to the wire, which can cause jittery producers to delay production starts until a deal is reached, lest they be caught by a strike in mid-production. In the past, those delays created ripple effects throughout the industry, playing havoc with the schedules of both management and talent.

The likelihood of a DGA strike next year is slim. The industry’s most powerful union has resorted to a strike only once in its 80-year history. That strike, back in 1987, only lasted 15 minutes on the West Coast, and for 3 hours and 15 minutes back east.