The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have announced a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that could end the longest writers’ strike in Hollywood history. The strike, which began on May 1, 2023, has lasted for nearly five months and has disrupted the production and release of many films and TV shows.
The Main Issues of the Strike
The WGA, which represents around 11,500 writers, went on strike after failing to reach a satisfactory deal with the AMPTP, which represents major studios and streamers such as Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros., and Amazon. The main issues of contention were:
- Artificial intelligence (AI): The WGA demanded that writers be compensated for any use of their work by AI systems, such as generating scripts, dialogue, or characters based on their original material. The WGA also wanted to have a say in how AI is used in the industry and to protect writers’ creative rights and moral rights.
- TV staffing: The WGA sought to increase the minimum pay and benefits for TV writers, especially for those working on short-order series (less than 13 episodes per season) and streaming shows. The WGA also wanted to limit the practice of “spanning”, which involves paying writers for one season while requiring them to work on multiple seasons.
- Residuals: The WGA asked for higher residuals for writers whose work is shown on streaming platforms, which have become the dominant mode of distribution in the industry. The WGA also wanted to tie residuals to the performance of streaming shows, such as viewership, revenue, or awards.
The Breakthrough in Negotiations
The negotiations between the WGA and the AMPTP were stalled for several weeks after a meeting between WGA leaders and several CEOs in late August ended in mutual recrimination. The AMPTP released its Aug. 11 offer publicly, which the WGA rejected as inadequate and insulting. The talks resumed on Sept. 14, after the WGA reached out to the AMPTP and both sides agreed to schedule new meetings.
The breakthrough came after several long consecutive days of negotiations last week, during which the AMPTP made concessions on AI, TV staffing, and residuals. The parties finalized the framework of the deal on Sunday, when they were able to resolve their remaining differences over AI and staffing levels. The tentative agreement was announced on Sunday night in a joint statement by the WGA and the AMPTP.
The Next Steps for Ratification
The tentative agreement will need to be ratified by both sides before it can take effect. The WGA will present the details of the deal to its members in a series of meetings this week, followed by a vote that is expected to take place online. The AMPTP will also need to get approval from its member companies.
If ratified, the new contract will retroactively cover the period from May 2, 2023, when the previous contract expired, to May 1, 2026. The new contract will also end the strike, allowing writers to return to work and resume their projects. However, it may take some time for the industry to recover from the impact of the strike, which has caused delays, cancellations, and losses for many productions and workers.
The Reaction from Writers and Studios
The reaction from writers and studios has been mostly positive, as both sides expressed relief and satisfaction over reaching a deal that addresses their key concerns. Many writers took to social media to celebrate the news and thank their union leaders and negotiators for their efforts. Some writers also acknowledged the sacrifices and solidarity of their fellow members during the strike.
Studios and streamers also welcomed the deal and praised the WGA for its professionalism and creativity. Some studio executives said they were looking forward to working with writers again and resuming their collaborations. Some streamers also said they were eager to showcase new content from writers and support their artistic vision.