How USA writers’ strike affects you

Well, it happened. The Writers Guild of America is on strike. If you missed last week’s article, the WGA represents thousands of writers that pen your favourite movies, TV shows, and cartoons.

They negotiate a new contract with Hollywood producers every three years. Even though Hollywood spends billions on movies and TV shows, most screenwriters are barely scraping by.

They have rebelled against the shorter seasons that streaming platforms have popularized, not to mention so-called mini-rooms. Mini-rooms are similar to the formal writer’s rooms that studios create for shows and movies.

The WGA’s demands are quite wide- ranging. The studios refuse to acquiesce to the WGA’s demands because doing so would cost them roughly $500 million. In contrast, the counteroffer from the studios would only raise their costs by $90 million or less.

Hollywood studios argue that times are still grim. Viewers have abandoned broadcast networks in favour of streaming, resulting in a dramatic decline in ad revenue. And yet, streaming platforms are also faltering. Netflix lost millions of
subscribers in 2022.

Disney has yet to recoup the billions it pours into Disney+ every year. Cinema chains across the United States are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. Layoffs among production houses have become commonplace. Simply put, Hollywood producers cannot afford to give writers what they want, or so they claim.

But let’s be honest, most of us don’t care about the details of these negotiations. Our only concern is, what happens next? Will Hollywood go dark for the next few weeks and months, depriving us of content?

It depends on what you watch. Movies are fine, at least for now. It takes two or three years to make a film. Any project slated to come out this year or next year is already done. And if not done, they already have those scripts.

TV shows are a different matter. Any project already in production is safe. For instance, HBO is hard at work on House of the Dragon season 2. Therefore, all the writing on that show is complete.

You can’t say the same for titles like Abbot Elementary and Yellowjackets, because the scripts for their next seasons are either incomplete or non-existent, and that won’t change until the strike ends.

This strike will end. One side will eventually surrender. But the longer it runs, the more delays you can expect, especially on the television side.

Naturally, all the talk shows (Jimmy Kimmel Live, Real Time With Bill Maher, The Late Show, The Tonight Show) are showing reruns because they rely on writers’ rooms to produce new content daily.

Without those writers’ rooms, they can’t operate. Saturday Night Live is also dead. Streaming platforms will likely use this opportunity to double down on foreign content. Netflix is already pouring billions into shows from South Korea.

International writers may inadvertently benefit from this strike, weakening the WGA’s position, especially if foreign content generates a significant boost in viewers and subscribers for streaming platforms.

Then again, SAG-AFTRA (Actor’s Guild) begins similar negotiations with Hollywood producers on June 7. SAG has already expressed solidarity with the WGA’s position.

What if the actors strike as well? What about the DGA (Director’s Guild)? Their contract expires on June 30. What if they follow in the WGA’s footsteps? This saga is far from over.

Source: The Observer

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