bitchy | Studios want to bleed out the writers’ strike, but they’re terrified of a SAG strike

The WGA strike is still happening in Hollywood, and other unions are refusing to cross the picket line. It’s likely that a SAG-Aftra strike will happen in the next few days. It’s also looking like the Emmy Awards will be postponed, especially if the actors go on strike and the writers are still on strike in September. Speaking of, the studios and the streamers are trying to drag out the writers’ strike until all of the writers go broke.

Regardless of whether SAG-AFTRA goes on strike this week, the studios have no intention of sitting down with the Writers Guild for several more months.

“I think we’re in for a long strike, and they’re going to let it bleed out,” said one industry veteran intimate with the POV of studio CEOs. With the scribes’ strike now finishing its 71st day and the actors’ union just 30 hours from a possible labor action of its own, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are planning to dig in hard this fall before even entertaining the idea of more talks with the WGA, I’ve learned. “Not Halloween precisely, but late October, for sure, is the intention,” says a top-tier producer close to the Carol Lombardini-run AMPTP.

While some dismiss this as just “cynical strike talk,” studio and streamer sources around town confirm the strategy. They also confirm that the plan to grind down the guild has long been in the works for a labor cycle that all sides agree is a game-changer one way or another for Hollywood.

“It’s been agreed to for months, even before the WGA went out,” one executive said. “Nobody wanted a strike, but everybody knew this was make or break.”

Receiving positive feedback from Wall Street since the WGA went on strike May 2, Warner Bros Discovery, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount and others have become determined to “break the WGA,” as one studio exec blatantly put it. To do so, the studios and the AMPTP believe that by October most writers will be running out of money after five months on the picket lines and no work.

“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Acknowledging the cold-as-ice approach, several other sources reiterated the statement. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”

The studios and streamers’ next think financially strapped writers would go to WGA leadership and demand they restart talks before what could be a very cold Christmas. In that context, the studios and streamers feel they would be in a position to dictate most of the terms of any possible deal.

[From Deadline]

This drag-out-the-strike approach is not just “cold as ice,” it’s stupid as hell. The writers are not asking for anything crazy, they’re not demanding seven-figure paychecks or top billing. They’re asking to be paid fairly for their work and for better working conditions – the studios and streamers broke the system and systematically devalued and marginalized writers. The WGA has even publicly offered to come to the negotiation table, but AMPTP has shrugged… because the streamers are just buying foreign content and studios are just shuttering projects, so they’re “saving money.” The studios and streamers are the ones without any longterm plans.

Meanwhile, the thing that really scares the studios is a SAG-Aftra strike alongside all of the other guilds and unions striking in solidarity. The SAG strike is looming, which is why AMPTP requested federal mediation to come in and take their side. SAG “agreed to the AMPTP’s last-minute request for federal mediation and has reaffirmed the negotiating committee’s dedication to securing a fair deal by the expiration of the extended contract at 11:59 p.m. PT on Wednesday, July 12.” SAG’s statement also pointed out that AMPTP is leaking like a sieve, especially given this Variety exclusive on AMPTP’s request to bring in the feds.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images.

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