The 150-day Hollywood writers’ strike is officially over, marking a pivotal moment in the entertainment industry. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have successfully negotiated a tentative labor contract that addresses several vital aspects of Hollywood labor relations. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the key provisions within this groundbreaking agreement, including its duration, pay increases, protection against AI utilization, streaming bonuses, and the potential impact on writers’ earnings.
The Conclusion of the Strike:
The prolonged strike, which has caused significant industry disruption, will come to a close immediately. WGA union leaders have unanimously voted to lift the restraining order, officially ending the strike. This change takes effect at 12:01 am PT/3:01 am ET on Wednesday, September 27th.
Contract Duration and Pay Increases:
The newly ratified contract is set to be in effect until May 2026. One of its central elements is a substantial boost in minimum pay. Upon contract ratification, writers will receive an immediate 5% pay increase, with additional raises of 4% on May 2, 2024, and 3.5% on May 5, 2025.
Protection Against AI:
A significant triumph for writers in this agreement is the provision guarding against the use of artificial intelligence. The contract explicitly states that AI cannot create or modify literary content, and AI-generated material will not be recognized as source material.
Streaming Bonuses Tied to Viewership:
Acknowledging the dominance of streaming in the entertainment landscape, the contract introduces a new residual structure based on viewership. High-budget subscription video-on-demand series and films that achieve a viewership of 20% or more among domestic subscribers within the first 90 days of release will receive a bonus equal to 50% of the fixed domestic and foreign residuals. The calculation for viewership is based on hours streamed domestically divided by the content’s runtime.
Impact on Writers’ Earnings:
Beginning January 1, this new structure will translate into tangible bonuses for writers. For instance, a half-hour episode will yield a bonus of $9,031, a one-hour episode will provide $16,415, and a streaming feature with a budget exceeding $30 million will result in a bonus of $40,500.
Enhanced Health and Pension Contributions:
The agreement also reflects enhancements in health and pension contributions for writers, with increased contributions for writing teams. It aims to improve compensation for screenwriters, establish minimums for writers’ rooms, and renew a $250,000 showrunner training program.
Next Steps for the WGA:
The negotiating committee has recommended the agreement and forwarded it for approval to both the Writers Guild of America West Board and the Writers Guild of America East Council. Both bodies have authorized a contract ratification vote by membership. WGA members will have until October 9 to cast their votes on the contract.
Following the resolution with writers, the AMPTP will pivot to negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Actors have been on strike since mid-July, seeking contract updates similar to those achieved by the writers. This WGA contract could serve as a blueprint for SAG-AFTRA in their negotiations with Hollywood studios.
The conclusion of this labor strike represents a significant turning point in Hollywood labor relations. With pay increases, AI protections, and streaming bonuses, writers have secured important gains. As the industry watches, the next steps involve actor negotiations and the potential for SAG-AFTRA to draw inspiration from this agreement. This development underscores the ever-evolving nature of the entertainment industry and the importance of labor agreements in shaping its future.