North Texas Daily

The future of Hollywood is on strike

The future of Hollywood is on strike

The future of Hollywood is on strike
July 30
12:00 2023

For the first time in 43 years, writers and actors are on strike together in what is becoming one of the largest labor disputes since the Hollywood strikes of 1960. Without any screenwriters or actors working on upcoming movies and TV shows, many productions have been delayed or are currently lying dead in the water. Now more than ever, Hollywood’s biggest studios are in major trouble as the strike continues with several controversies from major studio executives.

Due to the lack of an agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Writer’s Guild of America, writers went on strike on May 2, 2023, beginning the labor protest. Soon after, in July, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists joined the picketing. As the strikes continue each day, the core reasoning remains the same: residuals and artificial intelligence.

Residuals are payments made to an actor, screenwriter and those who worked on a film or television show based on network reruns, DVD and digital sales or streaming services. Whenever a movie is released on a streaming platform or a rerun airs on a television channel, those who worked on the episode are paid an amount determined by several different factors. Such factors include the contract in place during production, where the product will appear, and more.

However, making a living based on residuals often doesn’t work for many involved in a production. For example, 50 Cent makes only $16 annually for reruns of his “The Simpsons” cameo on television or Disney+.

Additionally, the rise in AI technology, such as ChatGPT, poses a threat to the jobs of writers inside and outside of Hollywood. It does not help that these programs are designed to use or even copy pre-existing material from other writers, and usually without consent.

AI programs can result in a huge loss of creative control for writers as more screenplays end up being more generic and formulaic without any human emotion, values or themes to make the content truly stand out. Ultimately, it can lead to creating less original content to draw audiences’ attention in favor of a simple cash grab, rather than taking the risk of hiring talented writers to storyboard and write.

There is also the threat of AI for actors, where studios can use it to scan an actor’s face to create entirely digital performances and steal an actor’s voice for voice-over lines without consent. Many movie and TV characters have grown to become so beloved by their respective fans because of these talented actors in their roles. Without them, no one would care about nor relate to these fictional characters, whether human, alien or a talking raccoon. Using AI to replicate an actor’s voice and performance is robbing that character of its personality.

By not paying the talent responsible for creating the content filling these studio executives’ and CEO’s bank accounts, the Writer’s Strike has really begun to show the true colors behind these massive studios.

Disney CEO Bob Iger stated in an interview with CNBC that writers and actors on strike are being “unrealistic” with their demands and expectations. Meanwhile, Iger is one of the highest-paid studio executives in the last 5 years, earning nearly $200 million. Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav earned nearly $500 million and canceled the “Batgirl” movie in favor of “The Flash,” which cost over twice as much and definitely was not the lowest-grossing DC film since “Green Lantern.”

To rub even more salt in the wound, rumors state the plan for studio executives is to ride out the strike until October when writers and actors “start losing their homes and can’t afford to pay rent,” which the AMPTP quickly denied.

Despite this, there is no denying the fact that Hollywood is sinking as fast as the Titanic due to the lack of newly scripted shows and halted productions, causing millions of dollars in losses for the studios. Recently, Cillian Murphy and Matt Damon walked off the premiere of “Oppenheimer” because actors cannot promote their upcoming movies or TV shows during the strike. Without any of the talent behind their content, all of Hollywood’s studios like Disney, Universal and Warner Bros. will ultimately take another tremendous hit financially alongside trying to recover from debt due to the pandemic and mergers.

To put it simply, actors and writers can ride out the strike as long as it takes, in one way or another. Executives like Iger and Zaslav however, can’t without putting the studio in bankruptcy or being ousted sooner or later whether. Like it or not, they need the talent more than the talent needs them.

Featured Illustration by Isabella Isquierdo

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Cameron Bowman

Cameron Bowman

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