Yesterday evening, Deadline reported that studios do not intend to negotiate with the Writers Guild until the end of October. While the WGA goes into its 72nd day of striking, and the actors’ union is less than 24 hours away from a possible strike of its own, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is planning to let the WGA “bleed out,” as one industry veteran told Deadline.
Why is the AMPTP letting the WGA strike go on for so long?
The answer, as unfortunate as it is, is simple when you look at the numbers.
Striking members of the Writers Guild of America, West chant during a rally in Hollywood, California, November 20, 2007Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Why is the WGA Stike Still Going On?
Even though the WGA picket lines have halted productions across the United States, Warner Bros. Discovery, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount, and others have decided to find ways to “break the WGA,” as one studio executive stated.
To “break the WGA,” studios and streamers have shifted to unscripted shows and buying up foreign content. While productions have halted, studios and streamers have been saving money on the shutter productions and severe cost-cutting according to the positive feedback from Wall Street.
“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. This endgame plan is a “cruel but necessary evil,” as one insider puts it to Deadline.
The AMPTP also seems to be refusing to sit down at the negotiations table with WGA and has no desire to come back until late Winter. While the Directors’ Guild found a beneficial middle ground with the AMPTP, the studios, and SAG-AFTRA are ready for the 160,000 members in the union to walk off set. However, the AMPTP is more aware of the effect actors have on their profit line and will return to the negotiation table swiftly.
This has been the plan for months, long before the WGA declared its strike. While nobody wanted the strike, the AMPTP didn’t want to encourage bottom-line crew members.
Credit: Jason Hellerman
Why Won’t This “Endgame” Plan Work?
Hollywood studio executives are basing their “endgame” plan on one thing: quarterly earning reports.
As David Slack, an American animation and television writer and producer, puts it in a Twitter thread, “It only takes one bad quarter for their stock price to plunge, putting the company and the CEO’s job in jeopardy.”
Right now, TV shows and films that are being released now were written four to 12 quarters ago. Eventually, studios and streamers will run out of original products to put out, and the pipeline will be dried. With no new shows, there is no ad revenue. No ad revenue means no money, eventually ending in a bad quarter.
However, it will take time for the pipeline to dry up. While I am in favor of the WGA staying on strike until the AMPTP is on its knees and ready to make a fair deal to give writers 0.02 percent of their company's gross income in a year, I know that many writers are struggling to stay afloat right now.
The writers have not been paid a fair wage in a long time. While the last writers' strike lasted 100 days in 2007, this year's strike might be the longest and most brutal. However, we must stand strong and fight against those who refuse to pay creatives for their hard work that keeps making them rich.
The best choice we can make as individuals who want to support the WGA is to cancel your subscriptions to streamers and find other ways to support filmmakers like renting physical media. Hold onto your money to support the WGA and help dry that pipeline that determines whether or not a CEO gets to their job in the next quarter.
Are there more ways we can support the WGA in the upcoming months as the AMPTP continues to disregard the foundation of storytelling in the film industry?
Let us know in the comments below.