After a 146-day strike that halted television and film production and threw the entertainment industry into crisis, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached a tentative agreement on Sunday night. If guild members vote to accept the deal in the coming days, some 11,000 writers can finally return to work.
Though the WGA cannot discuss details of the deal “until the last ‘i’ is dotted,” most speculate that the agreement includes almost everything they wanted from studios, including increases in royalty payments for streaming content and assurances that artificial intelligence will not infringe on writers’ credits and compensation.
In a published memo to its members, the WGA negotiation committee said with great pride “that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”
What does this mean for the SAG-AFTRA strike?
While the end of the writers’ strike comes as a relief to many, it doesn’t mean everyone returns to work as usual. With almost 160,000 Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) members still on strike, the only shows restarting production soon will likely be late-night and daytime talk shows.
SAG-AFTRA members walked out in July over similar disputes relating to low pay, streaming residuals and AI, to name a few, and the group has no talks scheduled with studios yet.
In a statement released on their site after news of the tentative WGA deal, SAG-AFTRA applauded their counterparts for “incredible strength, resiliency and solidarity.” They also emphasized that the organization’s strike would continue, urging the “studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand.”
The WGA continues to support their acting counterparts, calling on their members to join SAG-AFTRA on picket lines this week. Many hope that the negotiations accomplished by the WGA will lay the groundwork for SAG-AFTRA to reach a resolution with studios quickly since it addresses many of the same concerns.
Studios are undoubtedly feeling the effects of the strikes, with stock prices for Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global having dropped and analysts estimating that studios will forgo as much as $1.6 billion in global ticket sales for movies pushed to next year. And while everyone in the entertainment industry collectively breathes a sigh of relief at this week’s progress, economists estimate that the dual strikes have cost the California economy roughly $5 billion.
This deal does not mean that the strike is over or that the entertainment industry can return to work immediately. Picketing has stopped, but contracts must be finalized. The WGA negotiating committee needs to vote; then their 11,000 members must accept the terms of the new agreement before the WGA strike is officially over.
In addition to the striking actors, more than 100,000 behind-the-scenes workers — including directors, camera operators, publicists, makeup artists, prop makers, set dressers, lighting technicians, hairstylists and cinematographers — will continue to stand idle, many with mounting financial hardship. Some A-list members of the Writers Guild pressed for a return to negotiations, citing the pressure on idled workers.
TV dramas and comedies will likely take the longest to come back because of the actors’ strike and the complicated logistics necessary to restart large-scale productions. Production will need to contact crew members and writing teams to resume, which might take some time if people have moved away from their filming locations, Variety reported. Shows will also need time to kick-start marketing campaigns so that audiences know to tune in.
The industry pivots
The implications of the record-breaking strikes are unclear, with many companies downsizing and out-of-work picketers having left the business for good. But viewers will still get the content they crave. Networks had already pivoted their fall programming to include international shows, game shows, documentaries, more sports and even a few new series and movies coming out this year. While it’s unknown how postponed projects will react to the news of the deal, with writers anxiously ready to get back to work, we wouldn’t be surprised if your favorites were back soon.
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