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Creative Teamwork

On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), representing around 11,500 writers in Hollywood, went on strike after unsuccessful negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)[1]. This strike can disrupt the film and television industry significantly, affecting schedules and even causing economic repercussions. This article will explore the reasons behind the strike and the potential impact on film and TV production schedules.

Background of the Strike

The dispute between the 11,500 television and screenwriters and the major studios arose over issues of compensation and staffing[3]. The WGA is demanding an annual increase of $429 million, while the AMPTP’s proposal offers an increase of only $86 million annually [1]. The number of scripted television shows broadcast in the US has risen sharply in the last decade. However, the streaming era has stagnated writers’ pay [3]. With the last writers’ strike in 2007-08 causing the industry a loss of $2.1 billion[1], there are growing concerns that this strike could have a similar impact on the economy.

Immediate Effects on TV Production

The strike will immediately affect TV production, with late-night talk shows and daytime soap operas going dark and airing reruns[2]. Popular late-night shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” are not expected to air during the strike[3]. Primetime comedies and dramas on air should be able to wrap up their seasons uninterrupted, but a protracted strike could delay the start of the fall television season[2].

Impact on Streaming Services

As streaming services continue to grow in popularity, they could also face significant repercussions if the strike persists. With a reliance on a constant stream of new content to maintain and attract subscribers, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime could find themselves struggling to fill the void left by the strike. Additionally, new or upcoming streaming services may find it difficult to establish themselves in the market if they cannot secure fresh content due to the strike.

News Programs and Reality Shows

News programs and unscripted reality shows are safe from the strike, as they do not rely on scripted material written by WGA members[2]. However, the absence of new scripted content on television could lead to an increased demand for news and reality programs, potentially causing a shift in audience preferences during the strike.

Effect on Movie Production

While movies will not be immediately affected by the strike, as studios have a pipeline of films already written and shot[2], a long-lasting strike could eventually impact film schedules. As scripts for new movies are not being written during the strike, studios may find themselves with a shortage of new material once the pipeline of pre-strike films has been exhausted. This could lead to delays in movie release schedules and a potential downturn in box office revenues.

Economic Impact

The entertainment industry significantly contributes to the US economy, and a long strike could have far-reaching consequences. The 2007-08 writers’ strike cost the industry $2.1 billion[1], and there are fears that the current strike could have a similar effect. Local economies that rely heavily on film and television production, such as Los Angeles, could be particularly hard hit by the strike, with businesses in these areas suffering as a result.

Long-term Effects on the Industry

If the strike continues for an extended period, it could have long-lasting effects on the entertainment industry. The 2007-08 strike led to a shift in the industry, with many writers opting to work on cable and streaming shows instead of traditional network television. This shift contributed to the rise of what has been dubbed the “Golden Age of Television,” with critically acclaimed shows such as “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and “Game of Thrones” emerging in the wake of the strike. With the current strike occurring amid the streaming era, it is difficult to predict the long-term effects it may have on the industry.

Conclusion

The 2023 Writers Guild of America strike has the potential to cause significant disruption to the film and television industry. With immediate effects on television production schedules and possible longer-term impacts on streaming services and movie schedules, the strike could have far-reaching consequences. As negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP continue, the industry and audiences alike will be watching closely to see how the situation unfolds and what impact it may have on the future of entertainment. If you have questions, feel free to contact SpotOn Teaching for a free consultation.

References: [1] Hollywood’s writers are on strike. Here’s why that matters. [2] How will TV shows be affected by the Hollywood writers … [3] Hollywood Writers Go on Strike, Halting Production