A dreaded strike of the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) over digital media profits and DVD sales has been a whispered rumor for several months. Last week it became official, with pickets and protests, and only hours after it began, the effects were already drastically noticeable.
The WGA has been passive in its attempts to reach an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), but they just won’t budge. The WGA is asking the their contracts be renegotiated as new technologies up the profit of their creative works.
"Although the industry’s pie is continually growing, our share continues to shrink," said Patric Verrone, president of the WGA, in a press conference on Nov. 4. "Our position is simple and fair: when a writer’s work generates revenues for the companies, that writer deserves to be paid."
The last strike of the WGA lasted 22 weeks in 1988, and cost the industry an estimated 500 million dollars.
The first noticeable effect happened with the late night and daily programs-Leno, Letterman, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The strike hasn’t only affected the profit of the networks that air these programs, but the studios that send out actors promoting their upcoming films.
Some sitcoms have had to stop production on their currently running seasons, like Back to You and Two and a Half Men. The fate of other shows will only show with time.
Creator and executive producer of Lost Carlton Cuse told Entertainment Weekly that fans might only get eight of the planned 16 episodes of their fourth season early next year. "It will feel like buying a Harry Potter book, reading half of it, and then having to put it down for many months. There is a cliffhanger at the end of the eighth episode. It will only be frustrating [for viewers] to have to step away from the show and not see the second half of the season."
Most series are continuing to run their current episodes in hopes that the strike will be over before they run through their reserve.
Scrubs, now in its seventh and final season, is only two-thirds completed. If the strike sadly lasts longer than they have episodes to run, then the fate of Scrubs might never be told.
The first noticeable effects of the strike are on television, but it’s only time before we notice the drastic change in theaters too.
For those who don’t like independent films, you’re going to have to learn to like them or drop movie going as a hobby. And when that happens, say goodbye to theater chains and movie related paraphernalia-toys, entertainment magazines and Web pages, movie posters, etc. Rental chains will have to downsize. Redbox will go under. With the current demand for quick and easy entertainment and with pop/celebrity culture at an all-time high, this strike will make the estimated $500 million lost from the strike of ’88 look like nothing.
"The studios made it clear that they would rather shut down this town than reach a fair and reasonable deal," claimed Verrone. "For all viewers who have come to appreciate our work product, we are sorry that the studios have put us where we are. We are willing to see this through."