The actors’ picket outside the Paramount studio. MARIO ANZUONI (REUTERS)
From the first minute of this Wednesday, the writers’ strike will become part of Hollywood history. The leaders of the writers’ union, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), have ratified the agreement reached with the studios on Sunday. This afternoon, the leadership of the organization endorsed the final text of the contract, putting an end to the 148 days in which the scriptwriters turned off their computers, thereby putting the entertainment industry on hold. The writers obtained about $233 million in profits from the companies, a figure much higher than the $83 million that executives put on the table in the first round of negotiations. Hollywood, however, is still a couple of weeks away from returning to normal. The actors are still on strike.
The 11,500 members of the WGA will vote between October 2 and 9 on the collective contract that is on the table. The negotiating committee spared no words of joy on Sunday when it described the agreement as “exceptional.” In these hours, the leaders of the organization have begun to explain the benefits that the new 94-page text that will be in force for three years will leave them. Among them an improvement in conditions at a rate of an increase of 5% in the first year, 4% in the second and 3.5% in the last, audience bonuses in streaming services and a brake on intelligence artificial. The green light issued this afternoon also allows the return to work to begin. It is estimated that the first to return will be the talk show writers, who were the first to leave their jobs when the strike broke out. The broadcasts will return to television in the first days of October.
As the scriptwriters requested, the new collective contract will function as a dam against the emergence of artificial intelligence in the industry. The technological tool cannot be used to write a script or rewrite one of the versions, nor can it replace the credit of a human. Companies will not be able to force a scriptwriter to use some of the artificial intelligence programs, such as ChatGPT, to support the writing of a story. The WGA will have the final say, on behalf of its members, on whether or not to allow creative materials to be used to train or develop artificial intelligence software.
The studios also agreed to a new distribution of residuals, the payment that corresponds to the members of a production when a program is broadcast in a new market or platform. The more views, the higher the payments. This was one of the points that stalled negotiations for weeks due to the companies’ refusal to reveal their audience numbers. In the new text, however, the studios undertake to share with the union, through a confidentiality agreement, the total hours reproduced locally and internationally of the productions.
The new contract promises to compensate, from January 1, 2021, the scriptwriters for a high-budget title that is considered a success. This will be defined by any title that is watched by at least 20% of local subscribers to a service such as Prime, Netflix or Max in the 90 days after a release. Titles that achieve this will generate bonuses for their writers. These will be calculated with a formula that takes into consideration the production budget, the length of a series or the footage of a film and the number of views. This means, for example, that the writers of a widely watched television series will pocket about $9,000 for each half-hour episode. Those of one hour will leave a profit of 16,400 dollars and so on until reaching 40,500 dollars for a feature film that has cost more than 30 million dollars to produce.
The new contract also imposes a minimum number of writers on studios to develop treatments for a television season. At least three writers will be needed for a show of at least six episodes to receive the green light from a studio. Six writers is the minimum for series with 13 programs per season. Three of these may have the position of writer and producer.
The achievements made by the writers have injected optimism into the actors. At this time, there are no ongoing negotiations between SAG-AFTRA, the performers union, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents Paramount, Sony, Universal, Walt Disney, Warner Bros., the major television networks and streaming companies such as Netflix and Apple TV, among others.
The pickets continue to be called by the actors at the doors of the studios. The WGA has not called for demonstrations against the companies since Sunday, but the leadership allows writers to show solidarity with their colleagues as the labor conflict unfolds. This Tuesday, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, a writer, accompanied his friend, actor Noah Wyle, at one of the protests. “I think we wouldn’t have made it if we hadn’t had the support of the actors. They were very brave to come out,” the screenwriter told the AP agency.
This Monday, SAG-AFTRA put more pressure on the industry. The actors involved in video games, a sector that this year has had profits close to 35,000 million dollars, approved on Monday by vote to go on strike if an improvement in the conditions is not achieved in the negotiation of the contract. The threat promises to lengthen the extended summer of labor conflicts that the United States has experienced. The companies that must respond to the challenge are the giants Activision, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Take 2, in addition to the divisions of Disney and Warner Bros.. “It is time for companies to stop playing and get serious to reach a solution.” agreement,” said the president of the union, actress Fran Drescher. The studios must sit at the negotiating table so that Hollywood sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
All the culture that goes with you awaits you here.
The literary news analyzed by the best critics in our weekly newsletter
#Juicy #bonuses #salaries #limit #benefits #screenwriters #strike