The Future. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is set to essentially pause Hollywood if a new contract deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) can’t be reached by May 2nd. While studios rush to pay down debts from an all-in pivot to streaming and pricey mergers, outsized profits of their corporate parents may make crying poor fall on deaf ears. If there is a strike, expect it to have an even larger economic impact than the last one in 2007-2008… especially if directors and actors also call a strike.
Pencils down, pickets up
The WGA has called this an existential negotiation for the future of writing for movies and TV to be a viable career.
Here are some of the main issues at stake:
- The guild wants to make streaming residuals (royalties for movies and shows) tied to the viewership of the content. Right now, it’s a low fixed rate.
- It wants to set a minimum number of writers that need to be employed on a show. Currently, the boom in streaming has led to studios employing mini rooms to save money.
- The guild also hopes to raise the minimums that writers can legally be paid, combat the use of AIin script development, and update span protections to limit how long TV writers can legally be under an exclusive contract.
It’s been estimated that all of the WGA’s asks would cost the studios 2% of their profits. While the studios did experience a stock price boom following their pivots to streaming, the Netflix Correction of last year proved that streaming may not be a great business after all… leading them to cut costs to meet Wall Street’s demand for profits.
It’s now not just a battle of numbers but the perception of the numbers.