In a significant turn of events, striking writers whose industrial action had paralyzed Hollywood announced on Sunday that they had reached a tentative agreement with studios, potentially bringing an end to the protracted strike that had left the entertainment industry in turmoil.
“We have reached a tentative agreement on a new 2023 (minimum basic agreement), which is to say an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language,” said a letter sent to members by the Writers Guild of America (WGA). The letter continued, “We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional — with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”
While the letter provided no specific details regarding the agreement, it mentioned that the language was currently being fine-tuned, and the final decision would ultimately rest with the membership.
However, the letter also made it clear that the strike was not officially over, stating, “To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then. But we are, as of today, suspending WGA picketing.”
The strike, which began in early May, saw thousands of film and television writers demanding improved pay, greater recognition for their contributions to hit shows, and protection from potential job displacement caused by artificial intelligence.
For months, writers had maintained picket lines outside major entertainment industry offices, including those of Netflix and Disney. Their cause gained further momentum when striking actors joined their ranks in mid-July, causing a significant disruption to the US entertainment sector.
Negotiations had appeared to stall for weeks until recent days, when a newfound sense of urgency emerged, prompting top executives from major studios like Netflix, Disney, Universal, and Warner Bros Discovery to personally participate in the talks.
Among the writers’ key demands were fairer salaries, which they argued had failed to keep pace with inflation, and increased transparency regarding streaming audience figures. However, studios remained reluctant to revise the method of calculating residual payments.
Furthermore, writers sought safeguards against the encroachment of artificial intelligence in the creative process, fearing that AI could potentially replace them in generating future scripts and further reduce their earnings.
According to a report by the Financial Times in early September, the ongoing Hollywood standstill had already incurred a staggering cost of $5 billion.
The duration of the WGA strike has exceeded that of the writers’ 2007-08 walkout, which lasted 100 days and resulted in a $2.1 billion hit to the California economy.
Even if the writers’ deal is eventually formalized, the actors’ strike would continue, as there have been no known contract talks between the studios and the 160,000-strong Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) guild since the actors’ strike commenced.
Nonetheless, there is optimism among insiders that a resolution to the actors’ strike could be facilitated by a successful WGA deal, as both unions share similar demands and concerns about the future of their industries.
Sania is a Fashion grad from AIFD. Blogging is what she loves doing.