The Writer’s Guild (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) are set to begin negotiations on a new contract on March 20.
“The AMPTP is fully committed to reaching a fair and reasonable deal that brings strength and stability to the industry,” the AMPTP said in a statement.
The WGA, who declined to comment but confirmed the start date, is currently holding a series of meetings with its members for input on the pattern of demands that the guild’s negotiating committee will bring to the table when talks with AMPTP begin. Guild captains are also being appointed to create a communication network within the membership during the talks.
While the WGA has instructed members not to speak with press, insiders have told TheWrap that residuals for films and TV shows produced for streaming are expected to be a major topic during the negotiations, as it was a topic that both the WGA and other Hollywood guilds were looking to tackle with the advent of multiple new streaming services in 2020, but was tabled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Such discussions will happen under a very different financial climate than they would have three years ago. While studios were heavily investing in streaming prior to and during the pandemic, the past year has seen the Wall Street streaming boom collapse, with multiple studios including Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. announcing layoffs and significant cost cuts. Investors have signaled that they are no longer interested in streaming and no longer wish to see studios pouring billions to create a deluge of content for these services.
This past week, Paramount became the latest studio to significantly curb its content pipeline, announcing that it projects a $1.5 billion writedown in content this year. Other streamers like Netflix and HBO Max have pulled dozens of streaming films and movies from their service in an effort to cut down on residual payments while Disney has been considering selling Hulu, which it owns a majority stake in.
While the WGA has publicly and repeatedly shot down the notion that it is actively seeking a strike that would force writers as well as countless TV and film actors and crew members out of work, members who have spoken with TheWrap anonymously have acknowledged that the studios’ current stance on streaming could clash against the years-long push within the WGA membership to demand fairer residual payment structures that reflect the widespread pivot from traditional television to streaming.
The current three-year contract is set to expire on May 1.