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Arts & Entertainment Editor: Kamryn Kobel
Editor-in-Chief: Roxanne Hepburn
The Writers Guild of America (WGA), along with the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), have been on strike since May of 2023.
On October 9th, the WGA released a statement announcing their agreement with The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP): “99% of WGA members voted to ratify the contract.”
The contract will increase minimums, health insurance, pension, compensation, staffing, and improve terms for employment and streaming residuals. It includes other agreements that you can read about here in the official contract summary.
So what’s next? What can the general population, as consumers of the WGA’s work, expect now? And what about the SAG-AFTRA strike?
According to the LA Times, “Despite the new agreement, it’s unlikely that production will restart right away.” The agreement is not an immediate fix-all to the numerous problems that plague Hollywood.
Although writers have resumed working, the production of television and movies had still been halted because the actors couldn’t get back in front of the camera.
And, since production has been stopped for so long (this has been the longest Hollywood strike to date!), things will be backed up; one studio executive told The Hollywood Reporter,
“You’ve got the entire industry starting up again. Everybody’s going to be hitting the starting line with the same needs. There will be issues with cast availabilities, crews, getting stages, equipment.”
The transition back into production won’t be seamless, nor will it be quick.
“Once you’re in October, it’s unlikely any studio will start producing between the window of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s too expensive. They’d start in January,” a former network boss tells The Hollywood Reporter.
There is already a long list of movie and television productions that have been pushed back, including multiple Avatar movies, Marvel movies, The Batman: Part II, The Boys, The Last of Us, and many, many other titles.
And what of SAG-AFTRA? On November 8th, the union reached a tentative deal with the AMPTP. In an official statement to union members, SAG-AFTRA announced the suspension and closing of all picket locations effective November 9th at 12:01 AM.
The contract, valued at over one billion dollars, includes minimum compensation increases, protections against AI, streaming benefits, increases to pension and health benefits, improved compensation for background performers, and contractual provisions that protect diverse communities.
“We have arrived at a contract that enable SAG-AFTRA members from every category to build sustainable careers.”
The full details of the official contract will not be provided until the agreement is reviewed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board.
The ramifications of the WGA deal seem to have been the final boost that SAG-AFTRA needed to come to an agreement with studios. According to Backstage, “the AMPTP addressed many of the writers’ demands once negotiations resumed, it seems likely that SAG will have increased bargaining power, especially in areas that overlap with WGA negotiations.”
The unions’ continued effort led video game actors to demand a fair contract, too. So, SAG-AFTRA authorized their strike as well.
According to Reuters, “‘We all want a fair contract that reflects the important contributions of SAG-AFTRA-represented performers in an industry that delivers world-class entertainment to billions of gamers around the world,’ spokesperson Audrey Cooling said in a statement issued on behalf of the companies.”
Video game actors work in both motion capture and voice acting roles. The major development companies being struck against are Activision, Electronic Arts (EA), Epic Games, Disney, and Warner Brothers.
“Some of the same issues are at play in the video game negotiations as in the broader actors strike that has shut down Hollywood for months, including wages, safety measures, and protections on the use of artificial intelligence,” says PBS News.
So, although the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have agreed on a contract with the AMPTP, the fight isn’t over yet.
Keep in mind that the TV and movie industries will be held up for a long while as production companies get back into the groove of things.