The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has recently ratified their 2023 Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA), bringing significant changes to Hollywood. The agreement comes after 148 days of striking and negotiations with Hollywood studios, resulting in a 99 percent member majority vote in favor of the new terms.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ (AMPTP) acceptance of the proposed terms can be attributed to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike and the involvement of powerful CEOs in the negotiations. The WGA successfully addressed major concerns, including minimum staff employment, streaming residuals, compensation increases, script fees, artificial intelligence precautions, and data transparency.
The value of the deal is estimated at $233 million per year, as stated by the WGA negotiating committee. Co-chair of the committee, David Goodman, described the deal as exceptional, emphasizing its long-term protection for writers. This agreement brings newfound hope to aspiring screenwriters, particularly those in college-level programs.
However, there are some concerns regarding residual pay for writers and consumers. Under the terms of the agreement, a series or film must be viewed by at least 20 percent of a streaming service’s domestic subscribers within the first 90 days of release or subsequent exhibition years to qualify for residual payments. This requirement suggests that most shows won’t meet the criteria. Additionally, the data released by studios can only be accessed by six WGA members unless the guild pays for a third-party review, which could complicate the verification of domestic streaming data for residual payments.
The MBA agreement also has implications for the rising cost of streaming. The expenses incurred due to the writers’ strike might be passed on to consumers through increased subscription fees. Moreover, the increasing production costs for film and television may result in a reduction in the quantity of content produced each year, but it could also lead to a greater focus on quality.
While the writers’ strike has shed light on the existing problems within the industry, it is worth noting that film and television production has always been costly. Studios have engaged in a race to minimize costs within the streaming model, neglecting the importance of fair compensation for writers. Now, they must prioritize fulfilling their obligations.
In light of these developments, it is essential to consider the ongoing strike by the SAG-AFTRA, which has surpassed 100 days. The WGA encourages its members to support the SAG-AFTRA by joining them on picket lines. Furthermore, when signing contracts with film and television productions, screenwriters are advised to sign under the SAG-AFTRA agreement to show solidarity with unionized actors.
One actor, Jared Boghosian, shed light on the motivations behind the SAG-AFTRA strike, emphasizing the decrease in residuals for actors in the age of streaming. The SAG-AFTRA seeks a fair contract that addresses their members’ needs, including better wages and improved working conditions. It serves as a testament to the changing landscape of the industry, where writers and actors are advocating for their rights. As the writers’ strike comes to an end, it may provide momentum for the SAG-AFTRA to have their demands met.
The SAG-AFTRA announced that they will resume bargaining with the AMPTP on October 24. The actors’ fight continues, while those aspiring to enter the industry and students eagerly await the outcome of the negotiations. The evolving labor landscape, influenced by streaming and artificial intelligence, drives the demand for better pay and working conditions within the entertainment industry.
Overall, the recently ratified 2023 MBA by the WGA reshapes Hollywood, offering hope for writers while also highlighting the ongoing struggles faced by actors. The industry is experiencing significant transformations, and stakeholders are standing up for their rights, ushering in a new era in the entertainment landscape.