When more than 11,000 Hollywood writers decided to break the silence about their lousy work conditions, unfair pay, and Artificial Intelligence threatening their job security, almost all productions came to a halt. On Tuesday, 2nd of May, The Writers Guild of America called a strike, along with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers’ full support.
So, what happens now?
When the first strike hit in 2007-2008, Hollywood sure took its time recovering from the unprecedented downfall impact. Although the strike had only lasted 100 days, its effects on the industry did not go unnoticed.
2007-2008 Strike VS 2023 Strike
Back then, writing was considered a seasonal job, and writers would work on projects and series with fixed airing schedules. When it came to new series, after creating a whole show script, pilots (first episode) would air, and producers would wait for feedback. If the show is chosen, they make more episodes. That made several writers’ work -in their opinion- go to waste, as they gained no further benefit than the original upfront payment.
However, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, etc., had not yet come to life.
Now, they are considered the core of the industry. Since we no longer have to wait for new shows and season schedules, and shows are released throughout the year, writers now have to deal with more workload. The concept of “mini-rooms” is the result.
Production houses would hire several writers to produce entire 6-season shows within 3 months, then only end up hiring 2-3 writers. Now that they have blueprints and potential scripts, the remaining writers are no longer needed. Accordingly, those who do not get hired get only a fraction of what they would get paid for a similar gig, with no possibility for residual payments.
What’s affected by the writer’s strike?
It is fair to mention that the 2007 strike was a thriving era for unscripted reality shows; however, TV series and movies did not meet a similar fate. Several shows were ruined as long-time devoted writers were replaced by scabs (non-union writers) for the sake of production continuation. With that, some of the audience’s favorites, such as Heroes, Lost, and many more, were faced with disappointment by their fans.
Now, the crisis has already started hitting major production labels. All late-night talk shows are canceled until further notice. The new season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and Marvel’s Blade movie are put on hold. The strike is also expected to impact early 2024 releases if it lasts 6 months or longer.
So far, the strike does not seem like ending anytime soon. This is the point where we ask the question, what if it lasts several years? What does it mean for us?
Well, here are a few scenarios:
Writers Getting Replaced by AI
With everything that’s happening, stream content and movie enthusiasts are on the edge of their seats.
Seeing that one of the reasons behind the strike is AI threatening writers’ job security, the possibility of it actually taking place remains. As controversial as it sounds, AI is a go-to for effortlessly produced visual and written content. If it comes down to it, the easy way out is production houses’ go-to, which led to the downfall of several masterpieces during the last strike.
This time, both writers and audiences share a fear that with the use of AI to produce stream content scripts, no one will notice the difference. By doing so, we lose the human element in our favorite shows; passion. As well as so, AI deployment is still considerably costly, so wouldn’t it make more sense to arrange a fair-pay agreement with the writers instead and avoid the possibility of repetitive content?
Despite these concerns, many are arguing there is an enormous chance of it happening.
The End of Hollywood’s New Content
American society is a high-stream content consumer, and Hollywood has been at the lead of the movie industry worldwide for many years. This may be the time for this to change.
As Hollywood, as well as stream productions such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others, come to a halt, opportunities will arise for international productions to take the lead in television and stream content. American society will start seeking entertainment from external sources rather than being the ones producing it.
Imagine this: As Hollywood clears the path, it is Bollywood’s turn to make its way down the red carpet and down the Hall of Fame. French movies are no longer romanticized as untouchable art pieces but are viewed and fairly criticized as entertainment sources. Egyptian streaming platforms’ content is distributed and viewed worldwide.