In May 2023, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) initiated negotiations for a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). They failed to strike a deal, and consequently, on May 2, over 11,500 screenwriters went on strike. Their demands were for better pay, better treatment, and a greater share of the earnings.
Two months later, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) had a dispute with AMPTP and decided to join the strike. They called for better pay, job security, and safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence. This added an additional 160,000 people to the ongoing protests in Hollywood. Both strikes are increasingly becoming the longest WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes the U.S. has seen.
Without writers or actors, films, television programs, and podcasts are greatly affected. For some, production has continued without the writers, but most projects have not yet been written, resulting in either project cancellations or postponements until the strike’s resolution.
Actors have been refusing to work with anything associated with the AMPTP, including premieres, festivals, or award shows. Netflix is one of the biggest distributors impacted, as their negotiations with the two unions failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. However, SAG-AFTRA is not encouraging people to boycott streaming services. If streaming services do not remain high in demand, then it hurts both unions as they become less important to AMPTP.
Since production was shut down, studios have been losing over $600,000 a week. Not only that, but California as a state has also lost $3 billion. Major production studios, such as Warner Bros., have disclosed that they are going to lose over $500 million. Even with this, studio CEOs do not seem phased.
Moviegoers and TV fanatics are hoping that the strike ends soon, as various popular movies and shows are postponed until the strike ends. Some of these include: “Stranger Things,” “The Last of Us,” “Wicked,” “Captain America: Brave New World,” “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty,” “Avengers: Secret Wars,” and “Moana.”
The U.K.’s acting union, Equity U.K., has been following the actors’ and writers’ strikes in the U.S., and released a statement saying, “Equity U.K. stands in unwavering solidarity with SAG-AFTRA and its members in their effort to achieve a fair and equitable contract, and for the good of performers working around the world.”
This, however, did not stop Equity U.K. from receiving backlash for not joining in the strike. Unfortunately, it is not lawful in the U.K. for them to do so because they can be held liable for breaking their contracts. While in the U.S., WGA and SAG-AFTRA are protected and cannot lose their jobs. Regardless, this shows that the strikes are trying to become international, which could bring momentous changes to the film industry.