It’s been looming over Hollywood for a while, but it’s official, the Writers Guild of America has announced that a writer’s strike has now begun, effective 12:01 AM, Tuesday, May 2nd 2023. The Writers Guild of America are labour unions representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media, and broadcast news. The Guilds negotiate and administer contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of their members; conduct programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to writers; and present writers’ views to various bodies of government.

A statement from WGA has indicated why the strike has happened:

The decision was made following six weeks of negotiations with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The WGA Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing.

The companies’ behavior 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 labor force and opened the door to writing as an entirely freelance profession. No such deal could ever be contemplated by this membership.

Picketing will begin tomorrow afternoon in many locations across the US, including at Disney’s studio in Burbank, California.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) (aka the studios) said in a statement regarding the strike:

“Negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA concluded without an agreement today. The AMPTP presented a comprehensive package proposal to the Guild last night which included generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals. The AMPTP also indicated to the WGA that it is prepared to improve that offer, but was unwilling to do so because of the magnitude of other proposals still on the table that the Guild continues to insist upon. 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.”

The strike has instantly resulted in the late-night talk shows, including ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” stopping, since these shows are written on the day. It’s also expected that the soap operas will be likely to be impacted next, as these are constantly in production and don’t have scripts prepaid as far in advance.

Previous strikes have lasted over one hundred days, so should this new strike go a similar length, this will have a huge impact on scripted shows returning in the Fall/Winter season. It could also impact on theatrical releases in 2024 and beyond, depending on how long this strike lasts.

Most films and shows are produced months, sometimes years, in advance. The studios, including Disney, have been preparing for the strike, storing up scripts and giving deadlines to make sure scripts on current projects have all been completed ahead of the deadline. With Disney and other studios trying to cut costs, as they try to make their streaming services more profitable, shutting down production will allow them to have a short period with reduced costs. In the previous strike in 2007, studios shifted to creating more reality and unscripted television, which could still be created due to not requiring writers. With Disney creating content around the world, we will likely continue to see more shows and films created outside the US, which aren’t impacted by the strike.

In the short term, viewers probably won’t notice much difference, but as the strike continues, the longer it goes on, the more impact it will have.

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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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