Today, the Writers Guild of America and 11,500 screenwriting members have officially gone on strike. Film and TV writers from across the country will begin picketing at every major studio company like Disney and Warner Brothers, including newcoming streamers like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple. Pre-production and script rewrites will cease immediately on all productions that don’t have a final script submitted already. Cobra Kai season 5 and the entirety of the new DC Studio films have been put on hold. While shows like House of the Dragon continue production with all their scripts already finalized. The strike was imminent for over a month as the WGA and AMPTP (in lieu of the studios) could not reach an agreement regarding the new high-quality television boom in a streaming age.
The major complaint from writers is how their shows and films are distributed on streaming platforms. Back when network television ruled, screenwriters would be given 20+ episode season orders that would pay them steadily throughout the year. Writers would also receive additional residual checks anytime their shows would enter syndication and be used as a rerun anytime on television. With streaming, writers are given only 8 to 12-episode season orders with longer post-production timelines. Consumers also can watch any show they like multiple times, and the screenwriters won’t receive a residual check for those streams.
Another major complaint is studios also would commission “mini rooms” instead of full writer’s rooms to pen several scripts of a show that may not even get picked up for an entire season order by paying the writers a fraction of what they would have made in a complete writer’s room. Finally, with the rise of ChatGPT, writers want safeguards/guidelines for studios to use actual human writers and not AI on their future projects.
Fifteen years ago, in 2007, the last major writer’s strike occurred. The strike lasted over 100 days, from October 2007 to March 2008. The strike was a massive hit to Hollywood and network television. Most shows and films took a huge nose dive in quality as studios could only use scripts written beforehand without allowing a rewrite. Notable productions that were hurt were the drop in quality between Heroes season 1 and season 2. Another major film production killed entirely (plus tax issues in Australia) was Justice League: Mortal by director George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road). The film was only a few weeks from filming with an entire cast and was canceled entirely. Hollywood lost a reported $2.1 billion from that strike, and it’s unknown when this one will end.