Jun 7, 2023 - Economy

Hollywood's hot strike summer

Illustration of the Hollywood Walk of Fame with one of the stars as a closed fist with a "no" icon

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

This fall might be a great time to catch up on your streaming list — Hollywood has one union on strike, and studios are facing more labor strife that could result in further shutdowns this summer.

Why it matters: The streaming era has fundamentally broken the industry, and that has Hollywood's biggest unions united to a degree we haven't seen in decades.

State of play: The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studio side in union negotiations, is trying to use the same playbook it did to end the last writers strike in 2007-08:

  • Cut a deal with the Directors Guild of America (DGA) — the most studio-friendly of the three unions — and use that as a framework for the other deals.
  • It executed the first act when the studios agreed to a deal with the DGA, just days before today's start of talks with the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA).

Yes, but: The DGA deal has failed to tamp down the heated rhetoric. Multiple members of the Writers Guild of America, which represents about 11,500 TV and movie writers, expressed either nonchalance or outright anger at the news of the deal.

  • Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike of its own should it not reach a deal by the end of the month.
  • "We are collaborating together more than we ever had in the past," Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, executive director for SAG-AFTRA, tells Axios. "There are a lot of issues we have in common — and even on issues where we don't — we want to support each other."

Zoom in: The rise of Netflix and other streamers has upended traditional Hollywood business practices.

  • Streaming has also proven to be far less lucrative than expected, which has investors calling for reduced spending, which is trickling down to the rank-and-file workers.
  • Additionally, the rapid growth of AI is a particularly thorny issue for both writers and actors.

Zoom out: It's not just Hollywood that's embroiled in media labor battles either.

The bottom line: Enjoy those new shows and movies while you can, you could be reduced to reruns when the leaves turn brown.

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