The story of the summer is the dual strikes of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA that have caused the entire of Hollywood to have to assess the future of the industry and labor relations.
I’ll get this out of the way at the top, I’m in the WGA and I think it’s absolutely nuts we have to be walking around in the summer heat trying to convince the corporate overlords, who get rich off the things we create from nothing, that we deserve a fair share in the profits. We deserve careers. We do not need to be forced into the gig economy the studio executives are trying to force upon us.
If you care about writing and acting as professions, you have to see what’s going on and be furious at the way they’re trying to disrupt these two callings and turn them into things of the past.
That’s why I find it to be so myopic (Stephen Amell’s word) that Warner Brothers execs would be bragging during an earnings call earlier in the week that the strike allowed them to save in the “low $100 million range”.
They have to realize that any temporary savings now, which they advertise to help their stock price, has come at the cost of more movies and TV shows coming out that could enrich the studio.
We’re coming off the second-highest box office weekend ever. We have Barbie about to cross a billion dollars, and Oppenheimer raking it in right behind. There are massive opportunities in the post-COVID world that seem to be getting squandered by studios whose execs go on Deadline and threaten to starve creatives out until they lose their houses.
Of course, the studio brass on the earnings call were not as blunt as their anonymous counterparts.
“We’re in the business of storytelling. Our goal is to tell great stories, stories with the power to entertain and, when we’re at our best, inspire with stories that come to life on screens big and small,” said CEO David Zaslav.
He continued, “We cannot do any of that without the entirety of the creative community, the great creative community. Without the writers, directors, editors, producers, actors, the whole below-the-line crew. Our job is to enable and empower them to do their best work. We’re hopeful that all sides will get back to the negotiating room soon and that these strikes get resolved in a way that the writers and actors feel they are fairly compensated and their efforts and contributions are fully valued.”
These are nice words, but they are just words. With talks resuming today, you have to hope the AMPTP, who refused to even negotiate on most of the WGA’s concerns (and SAG’s) at the beginning of May, is actually ready to find some common ground to move forward now.
Again, saying you saved money is nice, but until you calculate the losses from the strike and blunders along the way, these are just talking points to keep stocks up.
Zaslav reiterated on the call that “It’s critically important that everybody, the writers, the directors, the actors, and producers… everyone needs to be fairly compensated and they need to feel valued and feel that they’re fairly compensated in order to do their best work.”
Zaslav finished with, “And we have to focus on getting that done. I’m hopeful that it’s going to happen soon. I think all of us in this business are very keen to figure out a solution as quickly as possible. We are in some uncharted waters, in terms of the world as it is today and measuring it all. And so I think, in good faith, we all got to fight to get this resolved. And it needs to be resolved in a way that the creative community feels fairly compensated and fully valued.”
As talks resume, we’ll try to keep our finger on the pulse of the negotiations and keep you updated.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.