Hollywood Strikes Out: Behind the Scenes of the Recent Writers Guild Struggle

By Leo Rodriguez September 25, 2023

Exploring the repercussions of the landmark Writers Guild of America strike, and what it means for Hollywood, the entertainment industry, and the consumer.

Recently, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) marked the culmination of one of the longest strikes in its journey, marking a win with significant concessions obtained from major studios and streaming platforms. The exact details of the agreement, while still under wraps, were hailed “exceptional” by the WGA leadership and are expected to address its members' concerns spanning from films to television.

The tentative contract, still pending ratification, signaled the end of a strenuous five-month chapter that saw a united front of writers and actors stand firm against industry giants. Yet, it doesn't spell the end for the challenges that initially sparked the strike, including the constant wave of changes propelled by streaming platforms. The entire ordeal has been nicknamed "the Netflix strike."

While the talent involved can rejoice at being better compensated, fewer opportunities could be available as companies become more selective in their ventures. This strike and the underlying issues around streaming, including residual payments and the minimum number of employed writers, were the catalysts for this united stance to prevent history from repeating itself in another few years.

Interestingly, an anonymous studio executive seemed to have underestimated the guilds' resilience, pushing for prolonging the strike in hopes of a desperate surrender. However, while the battle seemed won, overall, Hollywood might be losing the larger war. An unanticipated casualty of this war could be the general public who are likely to face increased prices for content with potentially fewer choices.

What was once supposed to be the glorious return of big screen movies with "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" turned out to be damp squibs, with other high-budget film releases like "The Flash" and "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" falling flat at the box office. This was indicative of the tensions boiling under, as carriage disputes between companies like Disney and Charter Communications led to temporary network blackouts.

The list of winners and losers as a result of the writers' strike is extensive and complex. For the WGA, their common voice was heard loud and clear, with 'WGA Strong' becoming more than just a trending hashtag. It led to their members receiving what they believe to be a fair wage. However, the end of "peak TV" might bring with it a decrease in job opportunities, potentially undermining their apparent victory.

On the other hand, the studios found themselves on the receiving end of a public image beating. They did manage to save some money on production in the short term but now face potential retrenchment.

Meanwhile, traditional TV networks suffered due to their bare fall TV lineups, a clear loss for them and a boon to streaming services. Streaming platforms did manage to save some money during the strike but now face the question of offsetting their slowing growth.

In a nutshell, while the strike brought about momentary changes and victories, the larger war within Hollywood and its effect on consumers continue. This begs the question; Will we have to pay more for our entertainment, regardless of where and how we choose to watch it?