The ongoing strikes by Hollywood writers and actors have entered their fourth month, with no clear resolution in sight. The strikes have disrupted the production and promotion of movies and TV shows, affecting not only the studios and streaming services, but also the thousands of workers and businesses that depend on the entertainment industry. Here’s what you need to know about the causes, impacts, and prospects of the strikes.
Why are writers and actors on strike?
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are both in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the major studios and production companies. The main issues at stake are:
- Residuals: Writers and actors want to receive a fair share of the profits from the distribution of their work on streaming platforms, which have become the dominant mode of consumption for many viewers. They argue that the current rates are outdated and do not reflect the value of their work in the digital era.
- Inclusion: Writers and actors want to increase the diversity and representation of marginalized groups in the industry, both in front of and behind the camera. They demand that the studios and producers commit to hiring more writers and actors of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities, as well as providing them with equal pay and opportunities.
- Healthcare: Writers and actors want to maintain or improve their health benefits, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exposed the vulnerabilities of many workers in the industry. They also want to address the mental health issues that affect many writers and actors, such as stress, burnout, harassment, and abuse.
How are the strikes affecting movies and TV shows?
The strikes have brought most of the production and promotion of movies and TV shows to a halt, resulting in delays, cancellations, and losses for the studios and streaming services. Some of the effects are:
- Delays: Many movies and TV shows that were scheduled to be released in 2023 have been pushed back to 2024 or later, such as Dune: Part Two, Deadpool 3, Challengers, Kraven the Hunter, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, etc.
- Cancellations: Some movies and TV shows that were in development or pre-production have been scrapped entirely, such as Gladiator 2, A League of Their Own, Metropolis, etc.
- Losses: The box office performance of some movies that were released during or before the strikes has suffered due to the lack of promotion by the actors, who are unable to do interviews or attend premieres. For example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem made only $8 million in its opening weekend, while Strays made only $10 million. DC’s Blue Beetle also had a disappointing debut with $12 million.
How are the strikes affecting other workers and businesses?
The strikes have also impacted thousands of workers and businesses that rely on the entertainment industry for their income, such as directors, producers, crew members, caterers, hairdressers, drivers, dry cleaners, etc. Some of the effects are:
- Unemployment: Many workers have been laid off or furloughed due to the lack of work available during the strikes. According to a report by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, the strikes have cost about 120,000 jobs in Los Angeles County alone.
- Hardship: Many workers have been struggling to pay their bills or access health care due to their reduced or lost income. Some have resorted to taking other jobs outside their field or applying for unemployment benefits or relief funds.
- Uncertainty: Many workers have been living in limbo, not knowing when or if they will be able to resume their work in the industry. Some have expressed frustration or anxiety about their future prospects.
What are the prospects for ending the strikes?
The prospects for ending the strikes are uncertain at this point. The WGA and the AMPTP have resumed talks after a two-month hiatus, but there is no indication that they have reached a breakthrough. The SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have not even resumed talks since July, as they remain deadlocked over several issues.
Both sides have expressed their willingness to negotiate in good faith and reach a fair deal that would benefit both writers and actors as well as studios and producers. However, they also have shown their determination to stand firm on their demands and not settle for less than what they deserve.
The strikes have also received support from other unions and organizations in the industry, such as directors, editors, composers, animators, etc., as well as from fans and viewers who value quality content.
The strikes have also sparked a broader conversation about the state of the entertainment industry in general, such as its power dynamics, its labor practices, its diversity and inclusion, its creativity and innovation, etc.
The strikes have shown that writers and actors are not just passive or disposable workers, but essential and valuable creators who have a voice and a vision for the industry. They have also shown that the industry is not just a business, but a cultural and social force that has an impact on millions of people around the world.