Select Page

Historic Strike Comes to a Close

The lengthy and unprecedented writers strike in Hollywood has officially concluded. After nearly five months of negotiations, board members from the Writers Guild of America approved a contract agreement with the studios, marking the end of a significant standstill in the industry.

Unanimous Board Approvals

The governing boards of both the eastern and western branches of the Writers Guild of America, along with their joint negotiating committee, unanimously voted to accept the contract. This crucial decision was made just two days after the tentative agreement was reached with major studios, streaming services, and production companies.

Following the board’s approval, they announced the end of the strike, allowing writers to resume work on scripts starting at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

Resumption of Late-Night Shows

Late-night talk shows, which were the first to be affected when the strike began on May 2, are expected to be among the first to resume production. However, scripted shows will take more time to return since actors are still on strike, and there are no immediate negotiations on the horizon.

Upcoming Writers’ Vote

While the strike has been lifted, writers still need to vote in early October to ratify the contract themselves. This decision will not impede their ability to work during the ratification process.

Positive Aspects of the Agreement

The three-year contract presents significant achievements in various key areas that writers had fought for from the outset of the strike, including improved compensation, longer employment periods, larger staffs, and control over artificial intelligence.

One of the main contentions had been the increase in pay and future residual earnings, with writers seeking a minimum of 5% to 6%, while studios had aimed for 2% to 4%. The compromise reached is an increase ranging from 3.5% to 5%.

Additionally, the contract includes new residual payments tied to the popularity of streaming shows. Writers will receive bonuses for contributing to the most-watched content on platforms such as Netflix and HBO Max.

Staffing Provisions

The agreement also addressed the number of writers on staff. For shows expected to run at least 13 episodes, a minimum of six writers will be required. Shows not yet ordered to series will have a guaranteed minimum of three staff members.

The contract mandates that staff members on shows in initial development will be employed for a minimum of 10 weeks. Staff on shows that go on air will be employed for three weeks per episode.

Artificial Intelligence Control

A key point of the agreement is the regulation and control of artificial intelligence. The contract states that raw, AI-generated storylines will not be classified as “literary material,” and AI-generated stories will not be considered “source” material. This maintains the role of human writers in the industry.

Under the agreement, writers are permitted to use AI in their work if their employers agree, with specific conditions. However, companies cannot compel writers to use AI against their wishes.

Impact on Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)

With the writers’ strike resolved, attention now turns to the ongoing strike of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. While their picket lines had been temporarily suspended during the writers’ negotiations, actors may be newly invigorated by the success of the writers’ strike and vote to authorize their leadership to potentially expand the strike to include the lucrative video game market. This move could increase the pressure on studios to reach a deal with actors who provide voices, stunts, and motion capture work for video games.

Upcoming Video Game Negotiations

Negotiations in the video game industry parallel those in the film and TV sector. Issues such as wages, safety measures, and the use of artificial intelligence are at the center of discussions. Companies involved in these talks include gaming giants like Activision, Electronic Arts, and Epic Games, as well as Disney and Warner Bros.’ video game divisions.

While negotiations are ongoing, the vote by 98% of SAG-AFTRA members to strike against video game companies may prompt further discussions.

As the strike’s resolution reshapes Hollywood, it remains essential to monitor the progress and negotiations in the video game industry, which could have significant implications for the entertainment sector as a whole.