Following six weeks of unsuccessful negotiations with media companies, thousands of unionized Hollywood movie and TV writers voted to go on strike as of 12:01 a.m. May 2.
At 7:59 p.m. Monday, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) issued a statement confirming that negotiations between the AMPTP and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) had “concluded without an agreement today.”
WGA quickly followed with a statement summarizing the reason for the action:
“The decision was made following six weeks of negotiations with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The WGA Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing.
“The companies’ behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a “day rate” in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.”
The Guild also stated that “WGA proposals would gain writers approximately $429 million per year; AMPTP’s offer is approximately $86 million per year, 48% of which is from the minimums increase."
The strike is WGA’s first since a 100-day action that started in 2007 and ended in 2008.
It represents a serious threat to an entertainment industry currently in transition and struggling to contain content and other costs to try to yield profits amid growing competition. A stoppage in producing strong new content could alienate consumers who are cutting back on discretionary purchases due to inflation, and push some to further reduce their entertainment expenses — potentially further increasing falloff in theatrical and SVOD spending, as well as paid TV cord cutting.
Moody's Investment Service predicts that the major theatrical chains, including AMC Entertainment, will be among the hardest-hit, along with TV networks, stations, cavble and some streamers. "Television will bear the brunt of f a long strike as the implications of the writers’ strike will play out more noticeably for TV networks, stations, cable channels and streamers,” Moody’s said. “TV networks, particularly broadcast networks, consistently schedule new primetime shows to begin in the fall," the firm wrote.
However, Netflix, because of its international diversification, is likely to fare better, in part because it can import content that it owns or to which it has broad licensing rights, Moody's said. Others have pointed out that Netflix has also stockpiled a reserve of new content.
The writers have announced that they will begin picketing at 1 p.m. PT/10 a.m. ET today.
Planned locations include Netflix, CBS, Amazon, Fox, Disney, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Sony locations in Los Angeles, Burbank, Culver City and Studio City.
In addition, the writers plan to picket sites in Manhattan, including some of the media companies’ upfront events, reported Deadline, which saw a list of potential sites.
The list, which may change, includes NBCUniversal’s upfront on May 15 at Radio City Music Hall, Netflix’s upfront on May 17 at the Paris Theater, and Warner Bros. Discovery’s upfront on May 17 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Other potential picket sites in Manhattan on the list are NBCUniversal (30 Rockefeller Center), Netflix’s headquarters and the offices of HBO/Amazon offices. Silvercup Studios and Silvercup East in Queens, as well as Steiner Studios and Broadway Stages in Brooklyn, are also possibilities.