The roller coaster ride of the Writers Guild (WGA) and the Hollywood studios is far from over. Despite expectations of an agreement being reached between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on Saturday, things have come to a pause. In their joint statement, both sides announced that they met for bargaining on Saturday and will continue negotiations on Sunday. This means that the WGA strike, which has been ongoing for nearly five months, will continue for at least one more day.
During the negotiations, the studios and streamers presented what they called a “best and final offer” to the WGA. While some may interpret this term as a dramatic ultimatum, it is actually a standard legal term. However, the choice of words did not sit well with many writers, with one studio executive describing it as “unfortunate.” There are concerns that this choice of words may have set the deal process back several steps. As lawyers from both sides carefully review the fine print, the fate of the negotiations remains uncertain.
Will There be Another Meeting?
Following the discussions on Saturday, there is uncertainty regarding whether there will be another face-to-face meeting on Sunday between the WGA negotiating committee and the AMPTP, led by Carol Lombardini. It is also unclear whether the CEO Gang of Four, consisting of Ted Sarandos (Netflix), Bob Iger (Disney), Donna Langley (NBCUniversal), and David Zaslav (Warner Bros Discovery), will be present. Throughout the past four days of intense negotiations, the CEO quartet has been actively involved, either in person or remotely through studio representatives.
The Final Sticking Points
Among the array of issues raised by the WGA this year, the final sticking points appear to revolve around artificial intelligence (AI) and staffing levels in writers’ rooms. The WGA is utilizing a comprehensive bundle strategy in its demands, which has made negotiations particularly challenging. The search for a mechanism to untangle these complex issues has become frenzied, as both sides aim to reach a resolution before the start of the Yom Kippur holiday on Monday.
The WGA strike began on May 2 and has now entered its 145th day. Thousands of members of the WGA have been on strike, striving for a new three-year film and TV contract. In mid-July, SAG-AFTRA, another major guild with approximately 160,000 members, joined the WGA on the picket lines, adding further weight to the strike. The combined force of these twin strikes has effectively halted production in the industry since their inception.
Despite the roller coaster ride of negotiations and the challenges faced by both the WGA and the Hollywood studios, the hope for an agreement still remains. Whether a resolution will be reached on Sunday, or whether the process will continue beyond that, is yet to be seen. However, it is clear that the determination to address the demands of the writers and find common ground is evident on both sides. As the strike prolongs, the industry eagerly awaits a breakthrough that will bring an end to this chapter of uncertainty.