Representatives of the Writers Guild of America and the major studios met Friday afternoon for the first time in three months. Still, there were no immediate signs of a breakthrough in the months-long labor standoff that has upended Hollywood. Hopes were raised in the entertainment industry when the WGA said it received a request from Carol Lombardini, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, to meet on Friday to discuss negotiations. The alliance bargains on behalf of Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. Discovery, Netflix, Apple TV+, and other media companies and streamers.
But in a note to members Thursday afternoon, WGA leaders dampened expectations of a resolution to the strike. They expressed skepticism over the AMPTP's intentions, noting during the 2007-08 strike, both sides restarted negotiations only to break apart for a second time. "We won’t prejudge what’s to come," the WGA negotiating committee said. "But playbooks die hard. So far, the companies have wasted months on the same failed strategy. They have attempted, time and time again, through anonymous quotes in the media, to use scare tactics, rumors, and lies to weaken our resolve," the statement said.
AMPTP called the WGA's bargaining committee's rhetoric "unfortunate." "This strike has hurt thousands of people in this industry, and we take that very seriously," AMPTP said in a statement on Thursday. "Our only playbook is getting people back to work."
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass weighed in as the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes rolled on. “Communication reopening between representatives of the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is an encouraging development, especially as this historic moment continues to have profoundly negative impacts on our economy and many of our community members,” she began.
Bass called it an “important inflection point for our city’s signature industry” that “has caused ripple effects throughout our economy as well as that of the state and the country … from the writers and actors on the picket line trying to make ends meet to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, to businesses who rely on the entertainment industry.”
In this day of streaming and artificial intelligence, among the main sticking points of the striking writers and actors, Bass added: “The economic conditions of the entertainment industry are changing — and we must react and evolve to this challenge.” She called it “critical that this gets resolved immediately so that Los Angeles gets back on track. I stand ready to personally engage with all the stakeholders in any way possible to help get this done.”
● BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF LOSSES
As Hollywood writers and actors strikes stretch on, states and local businesses suffer billions of dollars worth of losses amid the halt in production. Film and TV production hubs in the United States, such as California, New York, and Georgia, face massive budget losses even as they are content with high inflation and rising cost of living.
According to the Motion Picture Association, the film and TV industry pays over US$186 billion in wages annually. "As much as US$250,000 can be injected into local economies per day when a film shoots on location," the MPA noted.
For example, in the 2022 fiscal year, film and TV productions spent US$4.4 billion in Georgia. Meanwhile, a City Hall Spokesperson told Axios that the film and television industry represents 6.5% of New York City's gross domestic product and employs more than 185.000 New Yorkers.
● THE IMPACT FOR WARNER BROS. DISCOVERY
During its second-quarter earnings results call, Warner Bros. Discovery’s CFO, Gunnar Wiedenfels, said that the Hollywood writers and actors’ ongoing strike had brought the company savings in the “low US$100 million range.” The company currently projects an early September end to the strikes and a return to TV and film production.
“We are in the business of storytelling. Our goal is to tell great stories. Stories with the power to entertain and, when we are at our best, inspire with stories that come to life on screens, big and small. We cannot do any of that without the entirety of the creative community, the great creative community. Without the writers, directors, editors, producers, actors, the whole below-the-line crew,” said David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery.
“Our job is to enable and empower them to do their best work. We are hopeful that all sides will get back to the negotiating room soon and that these strikes get resolved in a way that the writers and actors feel they are fairly compensated and their efforts and contributions are fully valued,” Zaslav added.