Almost 120 days after the strike began, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has provided a more detailed explanation of where the negotiations are and described the recent counteroffer from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) as “neither nothing, nor nearly enough.”
Earlier this week, AMPTP representatives met with WGA leaders to discuss a new offer, which included adjusted details on critical issues such as compensation, minimum staffing, residual payments, and restrictions on artificial intelligence. According to the latest proposal, the WGA would get a compounded 13% pay increase over the three-year contract, and AI-generated written content will not be considered “literary material.” The AMPTP also offered to provide the WGA with the total number of hours viewed for each made-for-streaming show in confidential quarterly reports.
“During the meeting with the CEOs, we spent two hours explaining that, though progress had been made, the language of the AMPTP’s offer was, as is typical of that body, a version of giving with one hand and taking back with the other,” the WGA said in a statement. “We repeated what we have said since day one, that our demands come directly from the membership itself. They address the existential threats to the profession of writing and to our individual careers, all caused by changes to the business model implemented by the companies in the last seven to ten years. We stressed that we could not and would not pick and choose among those threats; that we have not struck for nearly four months to half-save ourselves, nor are we leaving any sector of this Guild unprotected when we return to work. We are willing to negotiate within these areas, but every existential issue must be met with a genuine solution,” it added.
The Writers Guild of America also gave a few examples of areas AMPTP has made proposals that are not yet good enough for them. They mentioned that, in screen, AMPTP has proposed “a second step but only for a statistically tiny category of screenwriters, excluding all but the first writers of original screenplays,” dismissing the concept of weekly pay. They also said AMPTP has ceded selected minimum terms for some Appendix A writers in SVOD. For example, they would not cover anything but comedy-variety.
In television, the companies have introduced the notion of an MBA guarantee of minimum staff size and duration. According to the WGA, “the loopholes, limitations, and omissions in their modest proposal, too numerous to single out, make them effectively toothless.” The association also said that it had real discussions and seen movement on their part regarding AI protections, although they are not yet where they would like to be. As one example, WGA mentioned that AMPTP continues to refuse to regulate the use of writers’ work to train AI to write new content for a motion picture.
“The counteroffer is neither nothing, nor nearly enough. We will continue to advocate for proposals that fully address our issues rather than accept half measures like those mentioned above and other proposals not listed here,” the WGA’s statement reads.
● DIRECT IMPACT
As time passes and the strike continues, the conditions for Hollywood workers are becoming increasingly difficult. As a direct impact of the strike, Fifth Season, the production company behind titles such as “Severance” and “80 for Brady,” has been hit with another round of layoffs. The cost-cutting measures impacted 30 executive and administrative roles, totaling 12% of the company. A spokesperson for the company, which had already made a previous round of cuts back in April, said that the reduction was caused by “impact on business operations as a result of the ongoing dispute between the AMPTP and WGA & SAG-AFTRA.”
Meanwhile, also due to the strike, “Dune: Part Two,” the second half of a two-part theatrical adaptation of Frank Herbert’s first 500-page tome, has been pushed from November 3 of this year to March 15, 2024. Warner Bros. Discovery also delayed the release of “Godzilla x Kong: The Lost Empire” from the new “Dune 2” date to April 12, 2024. Since April 12 was originally the slot for the animated “Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim,” the animated action fantasy will now open on December 13, 2024.