Strike in Hollywood: screenwriters and studios reach an agreement in principle

Published on Sep 25, 2023 at 6:57 am

The American entertainment industry can breathe a sigh of relief. The screenwriters, including the strike has paralyzed Hollywood for almost five months announced Sunday that they had reached an agreement with the studios that could allow them to return to work.

“We have reached agreement in principle on a new minimum basic agreement for 2023, subject to final contract language,” says the Hollywood screenwriters’ union, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), in a letter sent to its 11,000 members. “We can say, with great pride, that this agreement is exceptional, with significant gains and protections for screenwriters in all sectors of member activity,” welcomes the WGA.

The union specifies that the details of the agreement are being finalized and that the last word will rest with its members. “To be clear, no one should return to work until expressly authorized by the Guild. We are still on strike until then. But as of today, we are suspending the WGA picket lines,” the union added.

Inflation and AI in the crosshairs

It is therefore a movement of historic length in Hollywood which is about to come to an end. Since May, it has mobilized thousands of film and television screenwriters , joined, in mid-July, by the actors. The writers believe that their salaries have not kept up with inflation. They are also demanding that studios be able to earn much more when one of their films or series is a hit on a streaming platform, instead of receiving a lump sum payment, generally quite low, regardless of the popularity of the program.

Finally, the two trades wish safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence . Actors fear having their image or voice cloned, while screenwriters fear that AI could be used for scripts and that they will be paid less, or that their scripts will be used to train robots.

Actors still on strike

Negotiations remained stalled for weeks until recently, with executives from Netflix, Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. having personally participated in the talks the last days. For the latter, there was an emergency: this strike interrupted the filming of films and series, led to indoor postponements and caused $3 billion to $5 billion in losses, according to experts.

After the writers, what remains today is to convince the actors to put an end to their movement. Some 160,000 actors, voice actors, musicians and other media professionals are mobilized. Their union, SAG-AFTRA, has not spoken to the employers since mid-July. But, according to observers, SAG-AFTR and the WGA share many demands. An agreement with the WGA could therefore help pave the way for an end to the actors’ strike.

With AFP

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