On September 27, 2023, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) ended their strike. At slightly over four months, this was the second longest strike in the WGA’s history, only five days behind the 1988 Writers Guild strike. The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a deal on September 24th. With this deal comes a victory for writers in the film and television industry, establishing higher minimums and residuals, a minimum requirement for writers’ rooms, regulations on artificial intelligence, and more. This new agreement is set to last until May 1, 2026.
The new contract will increase minimums for writers by 5%, with more increases each year. Writers in staff rooms will be guaranteed the same pension and health contributions as if they were individual writers, instead of the contributions being split. A new tier of writers has been created called writer-producers, who will have higher minimums than normal writers. There will also be large changes to writers’ rooms. Writers’ rooms for streaming television will have a minimum number of writers and writer-producers. Development rooms (pre-greenlight rooms) will also have a minimum number of writers and writer-producers, depending on the amount of episodes in the show. Residuals for foreign viewership of shows have been increased and viewership-based residuals have been created for streaming shows. These new residuals are based on the number of subscribers – of a streaming platform – who watch during a certain amount of days following release, the amount of time in each episode of the show, and the budget of the show. Studios are also required to be transparent about the hours streamed domestically and internationally for every streamed show, to ensure that writers are being paid the amount to which they are entitled.
The AMPTP and the WGA agreed on a restriction to artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence will not be allowed to create new material and cannot be used as a source of information. Writers will be allowed to use artificial intelligence to help them write if they want to, but they will not be forced to use artificial intelligence to write. Certain categories of streaming shows will have higher minimums and with content classified as Comedy-Variety, thirteen-week guarantees for the writers.
Although the WGA has succeeded in getting their needs met and ending their strike, the Screen Actors Guild— American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) — are still out on the picket lines fighting for better payment and treatment of actors in the industry. Likely, their strike will also end soon, as they have similar demands and the AMPTP appears as if they want to get the industry back up and running soon.
There are several unions in the American entertainment industry that could decide to strike in the near future. The Animation Guild (TAG), which makes up the animators in the film and television industry, has their current contract ending on July 31, 2024. Animators have spoken out about their poor treatment in the industry, increasing the likelihood of a strike in their organization. Marvel Studios’ VFX artists have voted to unionize with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and could decide to strike in the future. SAG-AFTRA has recently unanimously approved a strike on behalf of voice actors against the video game industry. If they decide to call a strike, a lot of large studios in the American video game industry will be affected, such as Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Epic Games.
Late-night television shows will be back now that writers have returned to work. Writing has resumed for shows in development, however, production is still postponed until SAG-AFTRA agrees on a new contract with the AMPTP. Even when the film industry is back to running at full capacity, we will likely feel the impact of these two strikes early next year. SAG-AFTRA is set to resume negotiations with the AMPTP on Monday, which will be the first step for the actors’ guild to reach an agreement and end their strike.
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Sophomore Nicholas Carpenter is a Staff Writer. His email is email@example.com.