For the first time in 15 years, Hollywood film and TV screenwriters have said they will be launching a strike, which could have broad implications for the entire industry, as well as viewers.

On Monday evening, the Writers Guild of America said its 11,500 unionized writers would begin protesting on Tuesday. Negotiations between the studios and the writers, which began in March, did not result in an agreement before the writers’ current contract expired at midnight.

All script writing will cease immediately, the guild informed its members.

“While our Negotiating Committee entered this process with the intention of reaching a fair deal,” a tweet from the Writers Guild of America West said on Tuesday, “the studios’ responses have been utterly inadequate given the existential crisis faced by writers”.

Why do writers go on strike?

The WGA’s board of directors, which includes both a western branch and an eastern branch, voted unanimously on Monday to call a strike starting at midnight. The problem is how writers get paid in an industry where streaming has changed the rules of the Hollywood economy.

Writers say they don’t get paid enough, TV writers’ rooms have shrunk too much, and the old math of how trash gets paid needs a rethink.

“Corporate behavior has created a labor economy in a union workforce, and their unshakeable position in that market betrayed their commitment to further devaluing the writing profession,” the WGA said in a statement. communicated. “From his refusal to guarantee a weekly level of employment in episodic television, to his creation of a ‘daily fee’ in the comedy genre, to his obstinacy over free labor for screenwriters and AI for all writers . They closed the door to their workforce and opened the door to writing as a completely independent profession. These members could never contemplate such a deal.”

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the trade association that negotiates on behalf of studios and production companies, said Monday evening that negotiations had not resulted in a deal before the contract expired. current. AMPTP said it submitted a bid with “generous increases in writers’ compensation, as well as broadcast residual improvements.”

In a statement, the AMPTP said it was ready to improve its offer “but was unwilling to do so due to the breadth of other proposals that are still on the table and which the union continues to insist on. “.

The main problem

Streaming has skyrocketed the number of series and movies made each year, which means more jobs for writers. But WGA members say they earn far less money and work under more stressful conditions. Showrunners on streaming series only receive 46% of the salary that showrunners receive on broadcast series, according to the WGA. The content is booming, but the pay is down.

The guild is asking for additional compensation from the contractual agreements. Many ancillary payments that writers have always had, such as syndication and international licensing, have largely been done away with with the advent of streaming. More writers, about half, receive nominal fees, a 16% increase over the past decade. The use of so-called mini-writers rooms has exploded.

The AMPTP said on Monday that the main sticking points for a deal revolved around these mini-rooms (the union is asking for a minimum number of people per writers’ room) and the length of employment restrictions. The Guild said more flexibility was needed for writers when hired for series that tended to be more limited and short-lived than the once-standard 20-episode broadcast season.

At the same time, studios are under increased pressure from Wall Street to cash in on their streaming services. Many studios and production companies are cutting costs. The Walt Disney Company is cutting 7,000 jobs. Warner Bros. Discovery cuts costs to reduce debt. Netflix has put the brakes on rising spending.

How will your favorite series be affected and when?

The labor dispute could have a cascading effect on film and television productions depending on how long the strike lasts.

When Hollywood writers go on strike, it is often prolonged. In 1988, a WGA strike lasted 153 days. The last WGA strike lasted 100 days, beginning in 2007 and ending in 2008.

The most immediate effect of the strike that viewers will likely notice will be on late-night shows and “Saturday Night Live.” Everyone is expected to stop creating new shows immediately. During the 2007 strike, late-night entertainers finally took to the airwaves and improvised material. Jay Leno wrote his own monologues, a move that angered union leaders.

On Monday’s episode of ‘Late Night,’ WGA member Seth Meyers said he supports union demands, grooms viewers for show reruns while lamenting the hardships that come with a strike .

“Nobody has the right to a job in show business. But people who have a job in show business have a right to fair compensation,” Meyers said. “They have a right to earn a living. think this is a very reasonable request that is being made by the union, and I support these requests.”

Scripted series such as Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Abbott Elementary, Cobra Kai, House of the Dragon will take longer to be affected, but could also be affected. It could even cut seasons or delay filming altogether.

If a strike persists all summer, fall schedules could be disrupted. And in the meantime, not having writers available to rewrite can have a dramatic effect on quality. The James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” was one of many films rushed to production during the 2007-2008 strike with what Daniel Craig called “the basic skeleton of a screenplay”.

“Then there was a writers’ strike and we couldn’t do anything,” Craig later recounted. “We couldn’t hire a screenwriter to finish it. I say to myself: “Never again”, but who knows? I was trying to rewrite scenes, and I’m not a writer.”

Timeline and what to expect

With a long-awaited strike, writers rushed to get scripts and studios tried to prepare their projects to continue producing content at least in the short term.

“We’re assuming the worst from a business perspective,” Warner Bros. chief executive David Zaslav said last month. Discovery. “We prepared. We had a lot of content that was produced.”

Overseas series could also fill some of the void. “If there is, we have a great base of upcoming shows and movies from around the world,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said during the April earnings call. Company.

However, the WGA strike may just be the start. The contracts of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, expire in June. Some of the same issues with the streaming business model will be factored into these trading sessions. The DGA is due to start negotiations with the AMPTP on May 10.

The cost of the latest WGA strike cost Southern California $2.1 billion, according to the Milken Institute. It remains to be seen how painful this strike is. But starting Monday night, laptops were shut down across Hollywood.

Editor’s note: Comcast, the company that owns NBCUniversal, is one of the entertainment companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

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