The WGA (Writers Guild of America) has officially called an end to their strikes after a tentative agreement was made with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers), leading to a small number of shows returning into production.
The strike, which began on the 2nd May, lasted a staggering 146 days – this makes it the second longest WGA strike in history. The longest was in 1998 and saw writers on strike for 154 days.
The tentative deal has primarily concerned the main issues that writers have raised with studios including but not limited to the use of AI, fair compensation and residual income (a form of royalty).
The deal, whilst not meeting all the WGA’s demands, is still a major victory for writers in the union. In the new deal writers will receive increased pension and healthcare financing along with an 18% increase on compensation for residuals income on both foreign and domestic revenue (primarily for projects that are produced to a minimum of 30-million-dollar budgets).
Along with these changes, restrictions have now been placed regarding the use of AI. The restrictions do not, surprisingly, outright ban the use of AI. Writers can, if they choose, use AI to assist with projects. However, content cannot be primarily produced by artificial intelligence, and studios must disclose any materials that were created by, in full or part, AI programmes.
The WGA recognises that these are massive concessions by the AMPTP and a large first step in equalising the footing of writers in the entertainment industry. Adam Conover, a notable speaker on the picket lines of WGA and host of the show Adam Knows Everything, issued a statement on X regarding the agreement.
“These are essential protections that the companies told us, to our faces, that they would NEVER give us. But because of our solidarity, because they literally cannot make a dollar without us, they bent, then broke, and gave us what we deserve. WE WON.”
Conover did go on to note that, whilst not all the concessions hoped for were achieved, the offer made to the WGA was triple the initial offer made by the AMPTP prior to strikes beginning.
SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), whose members joined the WGA on the picket lines on 14th July issued a statement congratulating the WGA, though stating they would not be ending their strikes as they are “committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members”. WAG members joined striking actors’ picket lines; these included Jumanji actor Jack Black and Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk.
While the WGA is ramping down, SAG-AFTRA appears to be ramping up to expand the strikes from the silver screen and streaming services to the gaming industry. SAG-AFTRA members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a potential strike in the gaming sector with the president of SAG-AFTRA stating, “It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract.”
The strike of actors and writers in Hollywood has been estimated to have cost the entertainment industry around $5 billion. The industry is worth something around $100 billion, barely a third of what the gaming industry made during the 2022 fiscal year.
Whilst writers return to the writing rooms of Sunset L.A and shows, months behind on production, return to the assembly line, it could soon be possible that the writers and actors of the gaming industry could be initiating their own walkouts.
The year of strikes, rather than winding down, appears to be building towards a large grand finale. It’s truly a terrible time to be renewing those yearly subscriptions or having a PlayStation/Xbox on your child’s Christmas list!