As the influential US writers' union WGA announced, thousands of American screenwriters for series and films will be resigning from their jobs as of today (April 2).
The union's talks with the major film studios and streaming services had previously ended without an agreement. How long the writing union members will rest their work has not yet been announced.
Screenwriters in "existential crisis"
The reason for the strike: the authors are demanding better pay and better framework conditions for their work. According to the union, its approximately 11,500 members are in an "existential crisis" and are struggling with increasingly difficult living conditions. It would be about nothing less than the "survival of the writing profession".
Despite inflation, salaries have remained the same or even fallen. In recent years, a "gig economy" has increasingly developed in the industry, in which fewer and fewer fixed contracts are concluded with authors. Large companies are increasingly resorting to freelance authors for their productions, with whom only short-term contracts are concluded on comparatively poor terms.
Streaming companies under criticism
The focus of criticism is primarily on the large streaming companies such as Netflix, Disney + or Amazon. In view of the enormous growth in streaming offers, a higher salary and a higher profit share for the authors are appropriate. So far, they have often only received a fixed annual salary from the company.
The alliance of moving image and television producers (AMPTP), in which companies such as Disney and Netflix are also represented, announced that "generous increases" had been offered in the failed negotiations. The union, on the other hand, described these offers from the studios as "completely inadequate".
Billions in damage expected for the film industry
The current strike could cost the industry dearly. The last scriptwriters' strike in 2007 and 2008 lasted around a hundred days and caused total economic damage of more than two billion dollars due to lost production.
As with the previous strike, the mass walkouts are likely to be felt first on the TV channels. It is expected that the first late-night shows will be canceled this week due to a lack of scripts and punch lines.