Writers Guild of America Strike

On Monday, May 1, 2023, a negotiation between WGA (Writers Guild of America) and AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) fell through, leading to the first writers’ strike since 2007 on May 2, 2023, roughly 15 years to protest for higher and more consistent pay. To your average everyday Joe, this may be somewhat confusing as it’s easy to take writers and other departments who work on your favorite tv show or movie only as creative people who live their lifelong dreams. It may be like that for some people, being in any department working on a tv show or movie is still a job that can include tight & demanding deadlines.

Since the strike began, protesters have crowded studios consisting of Universal, Warner Bros., Netflix, and more carrying picket signs stating “Give up just ONE yacht” and “Pay your writers or we’ll spoil ‘Succession.’”

As of now, many Hollywood celebrities have come out to show their concern about the strike. In an interview with Deadline, Tom Hanks stated: “The entire industry is at a crossroads, and everybody knows it.”

Photo of protesters crossing the Avenue of the Stars in Century City, LA during the infamous 2007 writers strike taken by Jengod.

When the writing staff of upcoming shows and movies fled to fight in the protest, studios desperately tried to grapple with the absence of new scripts, leading to the halt in production in shows and movies such as Marvel’s Daredevil: Born Again & Blade, as well as Netflix’s Stranger Things 5, to name a few.

The strike has led to a disturbance of revenue streams for many companies, networks, and platforms that are part of the entertainment industry, which is leading to heavy financial impact and revenue losses.

So far, the public has shown to be extremely supportive of the writers who are fighting for what they deserve. Users on social media platforms are showing their appreciation and support for the writers of Hollywood in their protest with the hashtag, #WGAStrong. As of now, studios have shown an effort to negotiate with writers and the WGA as a whole.

Writer protester carrying a picket sign resenting the idea of AI in the writers room taken by American writer and actor David James Henry.

Rumors have sprung around speculating that Hollywood is interested in utilizing AI to create stories. Recently, AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology has skyrocketed in popularity because of its ease of use and future possibilities it has in many different fields. Specifically OpenAI and ChatGPT, a program that allows users to create a summary of a narrative or story that will then be artificially made into a longer, fleshed out narrative. However, many protesters resented against the idea of AI being used rather than actual writers.

Although the main focus of this article is writers and their protest, there are many other workers behind the movies and shows that you watch. For instance the VFX artists at Marvel are tasked with handling with multiple Marvel projects a year with tight deadlines that are rewarded with an $80,000 salary annually, or just around $9 an hour. The minimum wage in California (where the Marvel studios are located) is $15,50 an hour, around $6.50 more than they are making right now. It’s a similar situation with animators in Japan. Japanese animators earn as little as 27,560.60 JPY (Japanese Yen) or $200 a month. 

Nearly three weeks later, the strike is still going strong and doesn’t look like it’ll be stopping anytime soon. Studios have made no effort to negotiate with the WGA and Hollywood writers as a whole. In an interview with The New York times, Tara Kole, one of the world’s leading boutique law firms in the entertainment industry said: “Any hope that this would be fast has faded.”