Screenwriters in the United States are reportedly on the verge of ending a nearly five-month strike following a tentative deal reached with studio executives, marking what the Writers Guild of America (WGA) calls an “exceptional” agreement with significant benefits and protections for writers. The final decision lies with WGA members.
This strike has been the longest affecting Hollywood in decades and has disrupted a substantial portion of film and TV production. Concurrently, actors are also involved in a separate dispute, resulting in a severe impact on the entertainment industry.
The strike, which commenced on May 2, is estimated to have cost the US economy around $5 billion, according to economist Kevin Klowden of the Milken Institute. Numerous popular TV shows, including “The Last of Us,” “Billions,” “Stranger Things,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Hacks,” “Severance,” “Yellow Jackets,” “Abbott Elementary,” and various daytime and late-night talk shows, have been brought to a halt.
Among the concerns that led to the strike were issues surrounding writer compensation, the potential impact of artificial intelligence replacing their roles, staffing levels, and the royalty payments writers receive for streaming shows, which are considerably lower than those from broadcast TV.
Traditionally, writers would receive additional payments for broadcast network repeats, but this model was disrupted by the rise of streaming platforms. As a result, the current compensation structures include an amount meant to offset the loss of royalties from broadcast repeats.
Before returning to work, the WGA leadership and union members must reach an agreement on a three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. While the strike has not been officially called off, the WGA has suspended its picketing activities.
Late-night talk show staff may return to work shortly, and broadcasts could potentially resume in October. However, the union’s negotiating committee has urged members to exercise patience as they work on finalising the details of the agreement and contract language. They are enthusiastic about sharing the results achieved once everything is officially settled.