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The writers and actors of Hollywood finally get new deals after months of gridlock

By: Joseph Sussina

Beginning in early May of this year, Hollywood’s strongest unions, the Writers Guild of

America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), stood in protest against the Alliance of

Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over a series of rejected proposals intended to aid in the undervalued careers of writers and performers. 

On September 27 after a long gridlock, the unions finally succeeded in seeing these issues addressed by the AMPTP, officially ending the 2023 writers’ strike. The Hollywood workers were denied any resolutions over issues like poor staffing, unreliable work hours, improper royalties from streaming services, unacceptable pension and health funds, and the threat of AI replacing them in the workplace. 

The strike caused devastating delays and deadlocks in numerous film and TV productions, which undoubtedly caused anxiety and confusion in people looking forward to the promising new projects set to release in 2023.

However, this year’s writer’s strike is not the first of its kind, as this event has occurred

nearly ten times since the industry’s inception in the mid-1950s. Most recently, in late 2007, the WGA went on strike for four months over the lack of proper revenue from DVD sales, causing intense complications in films such as “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “007: Quantum of Solace”, as well as TV shows like “Lost”, “House”, and “Family Guy”. 

For those who have witnessed the results of these productions during this time, there was a noticeable plunge in quality, and the projects seemed somewhat incomplete or unintelligible, making this year’s delays even more disconcerting.

Like the 2007-2008 strike, writers and actors were unjustly compensated for their work

regarding new technology with platforms like Netflix and Hulu on the rise. In recent years, streaming services have exploded in popularity, but the money that these companies made was completely withheld from the majority of people who worked on the participating shows and movies. 

Under the new deal formed between the WGA and AMPTP, Hollywood workers will now receive their respective portion of the revenue generated from repeated viewership on popular streaming services.

The most substantial issue in this year’s strike, however, came from the recent rise in

the popularity of AI technology. AI, while having its own influence on the academic world, has also struck the film industry, as many writers and performers faced being simply replaced in

Hollywood productions. 

As you may have noticed with Disney’s most recent controversy with their 100th-year anniversary film, Wish, AI-generated scripts have already seen their way into mainstream media, heightening the threats of AI’s intrusion into Hollywood. Thankfully, the writers successfully negotiated several protections to maintain security in their careers while still

allowing AI technology to be properly utilized when desired.

For the SAG, a deal valued at $1 billion has been passed to substantially improve the stability and practicality of the acting career. As revealed in their public statement after the

negotiations had officially concluded:

“We have arrived at a contract that will enable SAG-AFTRA members from every

category to build sustainable careers. Many thousands of performers now and into the future will benefit from this work.”

The deal included benefits such as increased wages for background actors, contractually enforced diversity protections, and increases in pension and health funds across the board. Protections have even been put in placed for actors who have passed away, as using their likeness - like Carrie Fisher in “Star Wars” - now requires the express permission from their estate to be used in a film or show.

With this historic 148-day protest's conclusion, many of the Hollywood delays have been

lifted. Highly anticipated films such as “Dune: Part Two”, “Spiderman: Beyond the Spider-Verse”, and “Mission Impossible - Dead Reckoning: Part Two” will finally continue production, alongside new seasons of “The Last of Us”, “Euphoria”, “The White Lotus”, and of course, the final season of “Stranger Things”. 

Even in the wake of this monumental win, there is still uncertainty over several projects that were heavily affected by the strike, specifically “Deadpool 3” and season two of “Andor”. Much of the damage dealt to the interrupted productions cannot be undone,

potentially jeopardizing the quality of the final product of the film. 

Regardless, with the immense improvements in Hollywood working conditions, newer productions in the coming years will allow the writers and actors involved to work freely in secure and less intensive environments.

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