Writers’ strike ends at last, details of deal emerge

Hollywood sign WGA writers strike negotiations
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As the writers’ strike ends, it appears that film and TV screenwriters have had most of their demands met. Hopes rise that an end to the actors’ strike will follow shortly. 

The long-running writers’ strike has finally reached its end. After nearly five months of strike action, screenwriters in the US can finally pick up their laptops, pens, quills and go back to work. Whilst the deal still needs to be ratified by the membership of the Writers Guild of America, that seems to be a formality at this point.

As the second-longest writers’ strike in Hollywood history, the negotiations were hard-fought with the alliance of studios seemingly taking their collective time to come to the bargaining table with serious offers. As the deal is now being presented to WGA members, details have emerged and on the surface at least, it seems like the WGA has succeeded in winning most of the demands that it was looking for when it first came to the table.

In brief, the WGA has secured a pay rise equal to that negotiated by the Directors Guild of America (a group which chose not to strike, if you recall). However, on the thornier issues the WGA seems to have won some hard-fought territory too.

With regards to minimum staffing levels and ending the use of ‘mini-writers rooms’, the WGA has secured a ‘minimum floor level’ of writers that must be involved in a project from the outset. Previously, there was no minimum level. Now, at least three writers will be guaranteed between 10-20 weeks of work, with those numbers scaling depending on the size of the project. This is seen as something of a coup considering that the WGA’s demands in this regards were initially seen by many as having zero prospects of success.

On the subject of AI, the core aim of the WGA was met: “AI can’t write or rewrite literary material, and AI-generated material will not be considered source material”. This means writers will never have to share credit or payment with an AI. Other additional protections have also been agreed. This was reportedly the final hurdle to navigate before the negotiations were successfully concluded.

Read more: Warner Bros Discovery predicts strikes will cause $300-500m losses

Finally, on the matter of data transparency and residuals, the WGA made some headway too. While it didn’t get as far as forcing the likes of Netflix to share its viewing numbers so writers could better determine a film/TV show’s worth, the alliance of studios has agreed to privately share data to the Guild, subject to a confidentiality agreement, releasing the following details: ‘the total number of hours streamed, both domestically and internationally, of self-produced high budget streaming programs.’ A residual system has then been agreed on to further financially compensate writers whose projects have exceeded agreed viewing thresholds.

It’s certainly another victory, but it’s not the full win that lots of writers were hoping for. Under the terms of the deal, “the Guild may share information with the membership in aggregated form” – likely meaning most writers won’t have full access to the data regarding the success of their project.

Still, it looks like a fantastic deal overall, although we’ll see what the WGA membership thinks as the finer details are pored over in the coming days. With the writers’ strike now out of the way, hopes are rising that we’ll see a quick resolution to the ongoing actors’ strike with reports stating that both parties are looking to enter negotiations quickly.

The actors’ guild, SAG-AFTRA is asking for twice the pay rise that the writers and directors guilds settled for, so that could still be a sticking point, not to mention the ongoing debate over AI recreation of actors. That’s a hot topic in video gaming too, where it has just been announced that SAG-AFTRA will also be instructing its members to strike.

Rest assured – we know you worry – we’ll bring you more on this one as we hear it.


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