Are the Hollywood strikes over?
After over six months, both the Hollywood writer's and actor's strikes have come to an end.
The SAG-AFTRA strike officially came to an end on November 8, 2023.
"In a unanimous vote this afternoon, The SAG-AFTRA TV/Theatrical Committee approved a tentative agreement with the AMPTP bringing an end to the 118-day strike. The strike officially ends at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 9," SAG-AFTRA said in a statement to The Los Angeles Times.
The WGA strike concluded just over one month before the SAG-AFTRA strike, with Hollywood's writers and WGA union members permitted to return to work from September 27, 2023.
"We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional - with meaningful gains for protections for writers in every sector of the membership," the WGA wrote in a statement.
When will Hollywood films return to production?
As Hollywood ground to a halt following the announcement of the SAG-AFTRA strike, many fan-favourite productions were also impacted, with production on critically acclaimed series such as Stranger Things, Euphoria, Abbott Elementary, and The Last of Us being paused indefinitely.
With both the writers and actors now permitted to return to work, it can be anticipated that Hollywood will make a swift return to production. While the exact release dates of upcoming projects are still to be determined, fans can expect to see a greater public presence of their favourite Hollywood stars, with both actors and writers now permitted to appear at premieres, press junkets, and various media events.
While personal promotion and discussion of upcoming projects were prohibited under strike conditions, both Hollywood's actors and writers are now permitted to discuss their work on social media - ending the widespread social media silence from many of Hollywood's biggest stars.
Why did Hollywood go on strike?
The Writers Guild of America went on strike to demand higher wages and an overhaul of the residual payment process to reflect the modern age of streaming content. The advent of streaming has dramatically shifted how audiences consume entertainment and streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are generating more titles than ever before.
This increase in market size has seen a collective decline in pay for writers during a time when the cost of living is increasing.
Like the writers' strike, one of the main concerns of Hollywood's acting strike was the payment of residuals in the age of streaming and the union demanded residuals to be partly based on viewership levels on streaming services.
The Actors Guild was also concerned about the rapidly improving AI technology. At this stage, AI-generated imagery isn't sophisticated enough to completely replace traditional film-making, but its advances of late shouldn't be overlooked.
"They proposed that our background performers should be able to be scanned, get one day’s pay, and their companies should own that scan, their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity on any project they want, with no consent and no compensation. So if you think that’s a groundbreaking proposal, I suggest you think again,” shared SAG-AFTRA's chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
How have the Hollywood strikes impacted us?
When the writers' union first went on strike in May, it meant the writing stage of the filmmaking process was halted. Although this affected several early-stage productions, many films and TV shows that were already written were still going ahead.
Following the announcement of the SAG-AFTRA strike, film and television shooting, the most cash-intensive part of the production process, was told to stop immediately.
Most American films and television shows halted production due to the strikes, which meant many projects would not be able to be released this year and beyond. This has affected film festivals, television series, and the release of big-budget productions - so we won't expect to see films like Deadpool 3, the Beetlejuice sequel or the film version of Wicked anytime soon!
The strikes also affected America's economy - especially in California, with halted production affecting businesses that feed, transport and house filming crews.
During the 2007-2008 writers' strike, the state's economy lost an estimated $2.1 billion.
Why did the Hollywood strikes last so long?
The Hollywood strikes lasted for over six months as a result of the ongoing negotiation process between the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, and AMPTP.
Prior to the strikes, both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA had approached their period of contract renewal with AMPTP in June 2023, with both unions re-negotiating their agreement with the production company union every three years.
In April, 97.85% of WGA members voted in support of a strike should the unions fail to reach a satisfactory agreement. Despite lengthy negotiations, the WGA and AMPTP failed to reach a deal prior to the negotiation deadline, with the WGA approving a union-wide strike on May 2.
Similarly, SAG-AFTRA pre-approved a strike with a vote of 98%, with A-listers such as Jennifer Lawrence and Rami Malek showing their support for a strike. Despite extending their period of negotiation, SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP failed to reach an agreement, with the actors strike being called on July 13.
Ryan Faughnder, the senior editor with The Times’ Company Town team, previously explained, that the strikes could have come down to “an endurance test” for streaming services, “that binged on content spending during the pandemic” and are sitting on a reserve of programming.
“We might start to see whether some studios have more of a stomach for the standoff than others,” Ryan explained. “Or if a high-powered studio head is motivated to jump in as a uniting force to hammer out a compromise.”
Overall, the Hollywood strikes were prolonged as a result of ongoing negotiations, with both WGA and SAG-AFTRA continuing to advocate for greater protections and remuneration for union members.