Remember back to March 2020, when Covid first started. Everyone was stuck at home and desperately searching for something to watch. Remember how desperate we all were that we even watched Tiger King on Netflix for some reason? We needed television and movies more than ever in those early dark days of the Pandemic.
But now, we may be losing all of that. The television and film industry is weeks away from a cataclysmic wall that may be unavoidable. And if we hit that wall, Hollywood may go dark for the foreseeable future.
The Walt Disney Company and the rest of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) are currently negotiating with the Writers Guild of America. The WAG began its strike on May 2, halting all late-night and comedy sketch show production. If the strike continues, scripted shows will run out of material soon.
And now comes the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Their contract with the AMPTP runs out on June 30, and they will vote on June 7 to authorize a strike.
But wait, there’s more. The Directors Guild of America’s contract with the AMPTP also runs out on June 30, and they will be holding a meeting in early June to discuss a vote authorizing a strike.
The people who write, act in and direct your favorite films and television shows feel they are due more money from the AMPTP. Streaming has upended the pay structure for all three unions. In years past, shows would have 20-25 episodes per season, and writers, actors, and directors were paid per episode. Now, most streaming services only offer shows with 8-12 episodes per season, substantially cutting the money these groups can make.
The way that we consume movies has also dramatically changed. With limited runs in theaters and moving quickly to streaming services, films make less money from box office receipts. This changes the amount that writers, directors, and actors receive from the residual sales of the movie.
There is increased pressure from Wall Street investors on the studios. The stock prices of most prominent entertainment companies have dropped over the past few months as consumers have changed their media consumption habits.
Wall Street investors are especially concerned about Disney’s stock. Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger delivered the news that Disney+ lost more than four million subscribers. Disney has already started cutting content to keep costs down.
Disney has begun to prepare for a protracted strike by all three groups. Disney+ has held back shows to save money and cut many shows from its streaming service.
There will be a limited immediate impact on Disney fans, but the issues will come with future films. The live-actions versions of Moana and Lilo and Stitch, which have been announced with a release date expected for 2024/2025, will be delayed by a protracted strike. This would also delay Toy Story, Frozen, and Zootopia sequels. Any Disney shows working on a new season or in development would also be delayed. This would also delay the recently announced Star Wars sequels.
A strike by the Directs and Actors Guilds seems inevitable at this point unless the AMPTP can come to an agreement with the Writers Guild before the June 30 deadline. That, however, seems unlikely as both sides dig in. The Writers Guild recently released a proposal that said their new contract would cost the Walt Disney Company an estimated $75 million a year to pay the writers. Disney balked at that number, saying it was “too high.”
Wall St Investors will pay attention to the news about a potential strike since it will adversely affect the company’s stocks. But there is little reason for optimism. While the AMPTP members have concerns about their content and costs, members of the Guilds have worries about feeding their families in these times of inflation.
So, we wait for new entertainment as all sides fight for more money.
We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.