Screenwriters in the US say they have reached a tentative deal with studio bosses that could see them end a strike that has lasted nearly five months. The writers and AMPTP have a deal that will stop the picketing. However, ratification is needed before work begins.
The months-long Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike in Hollywood will seemingly be coming to an end soon.
On Sunday (24 September), the Writers Guild of America (WGA) told its members that the guild has reached a tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on a new minimum basic agreement.
After 146 days on strike, the WGA said the deal includes a revised residuals formula, a means of preserving the writers room, a residual that provides data transparency and rewards success, and protections from members’ work being replaced by artificial intelligence.
The agreement comes just five days before the strike would have become the longest in the guild's history.
The guild has made clear that “no one is to return to work” until the contract has been ratified, but picketing is suspended.
“What we have won in this contract – most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2nd – is due to the willingness of this membership to exercise its power, to demonstrate its solidarity, to walk side-by-side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days,” said the WGA in an official statement to members.
“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”
The WGA did temper expectations somewhat: “What remains now is for our staff to make sure everything we have agreed to is codified in final contract language. And though we are eager to share the details of what has been achieved with you, we cannot do that until the last “i” is dotted. To do so would complicate our ability to finish the job.”
The next step will be for the WGA to complete the “Memorandum of Agreement” with the AMPTP and then have the negotiating committee vote on sending it to the WGA West and East boards for approval. The board and council will then vote on whether to lift the “restraining order” and end the strike at a time still to be determined once the contract is ratified by members.
The leadership votes are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday (26 September) if the language is settled. At which point, the WGA will provide a “comprehensive summary of the deal points and the Memorandum of Agreement.”
No deal yet for actors
The WGA has requested that its members not return to work until the AMPTP has reached a deal with SAG-AFTRA, to bring an end to the ongoing actors strike.
The Hollywood actors union joined the WGA in striking on 13 July, after negotiations broke down with the AMPTP, who represent major studios like Warner Bros., Netflix, Disney, Apple, and Amazon.
This year marked the first time since the 1960 that both unions have gone on strike together.
It said in a statement: "SAG-AFTRA congratulates the WGA on reaching a tentative agreement with the AMPTP after 146 days of incredible strength, resiliency and solidarity on the picket lines. While we look forward to reviewing the WGA and AMPTP's tentative agreement, we remain committed to achieving the necessary terms for our members.”
The statement continued: "We remain on strike in our TV/Theatrical contract and continue to urge the studio and streamer CEOs and the AMPTP to return to the table and make the fair deal that our members deserve and demand."
While Hollywood can indulge in a heavy sigh of relief, the strikes are not completely over and economists have estimated that the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes have cost California’s economy approximately $5 billion (€4,6 billion).