The unions that represent Hollywood writers and actors said that a tentative agreement had been struck with a coalition of major film studios and streaming services, following about four months of a walkout over their working conditions and contracts.
Film and television productions, as well as other production and marketing endeavours, have been suspended at this time and are scheduled to pick back up in the coming months.
What is the agreement, why did the strike last for so long, and how will it affect Hollywood productions and television shows? Read to know.
Why did Hollywood go on strike?
The WGA and the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA joined the strike in July 2023, and it started in May of that same year. After nearly 60 years apart, the two main unions went on strike simultaneously.
In light of a changing economic model that is moving away from traditional TV and movie theatres and toward streaming services like Netflix, Disney, Amazon Prime, etc., the strikes were organised to address issues pertaining to workers in the US entertainment industry. Employees felt that their rights should be updated in the regulations that regulate them.
For example, screenwriters received payment for the shows they worked on that were rebroadcast during the period when television was the primary medium for entertainment consumption (a practice known as “residual” income). This provided a reliable source of revenue. Giants in streaming, however, do not have comparable policies in place.
The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and the possibility that studios might use programs like ChatGPT to generate screenplays and scripts in order to save money were major causes for concern as well. Hollywood Actors were also opposed to firms using their faces and likenesses in the future to produce films or other media without getting their permission or paying them.
What were the requests, and were they fulfilled?
As previously mentioned in May, the union was calling for more pay in light of a shifting workplace culture as well as additional benefits like higher minimum wage, streaming residuals, and increased payments to the WGA health and pension plans.
On X, SAG-AFTRA posted, “In a contract valued at over one billion dollars, we have achieved a deal of extraordinary scope.” This is said to include “above-pattern” minimum compensation increases, “unprecedented” provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI, and the establishment of a streaming participation bonus. There have also been improvements on the pension and health fronts. There will also be “compensation increases for background performers, and critical contract provisions protecting diverse communities.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, full details of the contract will be released after it is reviewed by SAG-AFTRA’s national board.
“A tentative settlement does now no longer remove the capability for the strike to continue, as WGA management should nonetheless vote towards lifting the union’s restraining order. And in phrases of the contract, participants should nonetheless reject the deal in an upcoming ratification vote,” it added.
However, the unions have been in all likelihood to try to persuade their participants to just accept the deal.But whilst the deal has been celebrated, there also are issues over the accelerated minimal pay and different pro-employee provisions.
Platforms like Netflix and Disney are reportedly under stress from buyers over profitability and this may cause a cutback in hiring and a discounted variety of shows and movies being produced. In turn, employees have criticised the bonuses offered to high-rating executives and wondered whether they want to reduce costs.