A screenwriters' strike is looming in Hollywood: series in danger?

A writers' strike is looming in Hollywood: Shows in danger?


Threat to late shows and series? A strike by thousands of American television and film screenwriters for a pay rise is looming in Hollywood on Monday in the absence of an agreement, a few hours from the expiration of notice.

The main studios and platforms, including Disney and Netflix, are in talks with the powerful writers' union, Writers Guild of America (WGA), which threatens if no agreement is reached to order a strike after midnight.

< p>This would result in the immediate hiatus of hit shows, such as late-night shows, and significantly delay TV series and movies slated for release this year.

The latest social movement in he scope in Hollywood dates back to the screenwriters' strike that paralyzed the American audiovisual industry in 2007-2008. A 100-day dispute that cost the industry two billion dollars.

Screenwriters are demanding higher pay and a bigger share of streaming profits as studios say they need to cut costs due to economic pressures.

“Everyone feels like there's going to be a strike,” a Los Angeles-based television writer said on condition of anonymity. At stake is “an agreement that will determine how we are compensated” for streaming, both today and in the future, he added.

The screenwriters say they are struggling to make a living from their craft, with salaries stagnating or even falling due to inflation, while their employers make profits and raise the salaries of their executives.

They believe that there have never been so many working for the minimum wage set by the unions, while television stations are hiring fewer people to write ever shorter series.

One of the main disagreements concerns how writers are paid for streaming series, which on platforms like Netflix often remain visible for years after being written.

For decades decades, screenwriters receive “residual rights” for the reuse of their works, for example in television reruns or DVD sales.

This is either a percentage of the revenue earned by the studios for the film or program, or a fixed sum paid for each rerun of an episode.

With streaming, authors receive a fixed amount each year, even in the event of global successes of their work such as the “Bridgerton” or “Stranger Things” series, seen by hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.

The WGA is calling for the revaluation of these amounts, which are today “far too low in view of the massive international reuse” of these programs. She also wants to discuss the future impact of artificial intelligence on the screenwriting profession.

The studios, represented by the Alliance of Film and Television Producers (AMPTP) point out that the “residual rights” paid to screenwriters reached a record level of $494 million in 2021, compared to $333 million ten years earlier. early, thanks in large part to a boom in scriptwriting jobs linked to rising demand for streaming.

After being spendthrift in recent years when competing broadcasters sought to increase the number of subscribers at all costs, the bosses stress that they are now under strong pressure from investors to cut spending and make a profit.

And they deny using the pretext of economic difficulties to strengthen their position in negotiations with screenwriters.

“Do you think Disney would lay off 7,000 people for fun?” said a source close to the AMPTP. According to her, “there is only one platform that is profitable right now, and that is Netflix”. The film industry “is also a very competitive sector”.