Following six weeks of negotiations with the big studios, including Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the Writers Guild Of America has announced that it has gone on strike from Tuesday 2nd May 2023.

The Writers Guild Of America is a labour union that represents writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. These are the people that write the shows and films we love to watch on Disney+, Hulu, linear networks and in cinemas.

They are going on strike for the first time since 2007 because as the streaming wars have brought about a huge shift in how we, the viewer, consume films and movies, the pay structure hasn’t adapted. As you might expect, with the big studios all trying to cut costs, in order to make streaming services more profitable, this has impacted the people that create the shows and films that we love to watch.

According to the WGA’s statement, this has resulted in the companies’ behaviour has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing. From their refusal to guarantee any level of weekly employment in episodic television, to the creation of a “day rate” in comedy variety, to their stonewalling on free work for screenwriters and on AI for all writers, they have closed the door on their labour force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. As such, the WGA felt that no such deal could ever be contemplated. This has resulted in picketing by members at major studios’ main buildings, including at Disney.

In a statement, the AMPTP has responded to the strike stating that they have presented a comprehensive package proposal to the Guild, which included generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals.   The primary sticking points are “mandatory staffing,” and “duration of employment” — Guild proposals that would require a company to staff a show with a certain number of writers for a specified period of time, whether needed or not.

This isn’t the first strike by writers, who have previously strikes in 1960, 1981, 1985, 1988 and most recently in 2007. The last strike lasted over 100 days, and one of the biggest conflicts was over residuals over DVD sales. Unsurprisingly, the latest strike is about the changes that streaming services have made to Hollywood.

So what will happen to Disney+ during the writer’s strike?

In the short term, subscribers are unlikely to see too much of a difference. Most of the major new releases such as the Star Wars shows like “Ahsoka”, “Skeleton Crew”, and “The Acolyte” have already been filmed. Marvel has also completed filming on “Loki”, “Secret Invasion”, “Ironheart”, and “Echo”. And with Disney’s recent shift to slowing down its major releases and spacing them out, Disney is basically sat on two years’ worth of major shows. There are also many other shows like “Percy Jackson” and the second season of “The Santa Clauses”, that are also already filmed.  But work on writing the second season of “Percy Jackson” is now paused for the strike.

That means for now, we shouldn’t expect these flagship shows to be impacted. However, this will have an impact on new shows being created, especially anything that requires a script. Some of the shows currently being filmed, like the second season of “Andor” or “Daredevil: Born Again”, will likely already have had their scripts finalised before the deadline of the strike, so production can continue.

But, for shows and films that are currently being written for future releases, there will be delays. We might not see the impact of these strikes for years to come. Much like with the aftereffects of the pandemic, we will likely see what’s already been created spread out across the release calendar more, and there to be a slowdown in content eventually.

The studios have been planning for this situation, making sure that scripts have been created in advance of the strike deadline, and they’ve been stockpiling some shows and scripts to keep production moving.  However, no Guild writers will be on the set to make any adjustments to their scripts until the strike ends. Also, as the studios are looking to cut costs, having a strike for a few months, could save them lots of money, making the balance sheets look better.

It’s also worth noting that the WGA strike only impacts on US writers, so shows and films created outside of the United States, such as in South Korea, Australia or the United Kingdom, shouldn’t be affected. So, in theory, it’s likely more shows and films are created outside the US, to make sure there is a supply of new shows and films.

Disney Animation also shouldn’t be impacted as much, since many of the productions belong to the “Animation Guild”, though they are offering their support to WGA members.   However, the adult animated series created by 20th Television, such as “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy”, “Koala Man”, and “Bob’s Burgers”, are created by WGA members, so it will likely impact the next season of these shows.

During the last strike, studios flipped their attention to creating more reality and unscripted television, so should the strike go on too long, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see more reality shows, documentaries or game shows created to fill the gap.


There could be one benefit for Disney+ subscribers, should the strike go too long, maybe Disney might start looking into its archives to pull some classic films and shows from the vault, to fill the void of new content.    We’ve already seen Disney+ and Hulu sharing more new content, like the brand new show, “A Small Light”, so we might see more of this in the future too, as Disney tries to spread out what it has available, to give off the illusion of having more original content.   And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Disney revert back to spreading out its new releases, rather than doing binge drops, such as with upcoming shows like “The Muppets Mayhem” and “American Born Chinese”.

Since the last strike in 2007, so much has changed. Streaming has become such an important way for how we consume films and shows; it’s only right for the writers of these to be paid in accordance with the new system. The studios are obviously stating their side of the argument, that streaming is still relatively new, and they are still working out how to make it profitable, so they are trying to keep costs down. But it’s just a case of seeing where they can meet in the middle that suits both sides.

Without the writers, we would have no scripted shows or films to watch. Their creativity is what fuels the entertainment business. Without them, Disney+ wouldn’t have the shows and films we love.  So an agreement between the union and studios, hopefully, won’t be too far away, to provide the writers with a way to earn a living in the streaming era.

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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