Four Major Film Studios May Scrap Entire 2024 TV Season

in Entertainment, Television

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Credit: ITM

The age of television was forever changed in 2007. These were simpler times when major film studios still ruled supreme, Disney+ was still just a sparkle in Bob Iger’s eye, and the star of Even Stevens became a movie star. That would all change when the mail-only DVD movie company Netflix, created an internet streaming service. This led to a tsunami of new TV content that turned Netflix into an industry-heavy hitter that every major studio followed. Several massive financial gains later, four major studios may no longer have any new content to put out in 2024.

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Credit: Inside the Magic

This outcome has stemmed from the aftermath of the resolved writers’ strike and the conflict of the ongoing actors’ strike. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Screen Actors Guild- American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) met this week to iron out a potential resolution between the two parties.

The CEOs of four major entertainment companies (Disney, Warner Bros. Netflix, and Universal) presented SAG-AFTRA with an agreement to increase bonuses for the most-watched streaming content. They also agreed to provide a sizeable improvement to actors’ minimum pay rates.

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Credit: ITM

However, the actors union refused the offer unless the studios could also present a financial cut of total streaming revenue. The four major film studios refused to budge on this issue despite it being the focal point of the 104-day strike. Even while talks are still in progress, neither party is happy that they have not come to terms with a mutual decision.

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Credit: ITM

For the sixth time this month and the first since negotiations broke down on October 11, 2023, the four CEOs—David Zaslav of Warner Bros. Discovery, Donna Langley of NBCUniversal, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, and Bob Iger of Disney visited SAG-AFTRA’s main offices to plead with the union heads about the stalemate. During the meeting, the CEOs aimed to convey to the SAG leadership the immense financial consequences if this impasse does not reach a proper conclusion.

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Credit: ITM

One report claims that the CEOs expressed that if the strike continues, multiple TV series will have to be canceled. While some on the union side saw that as a threat, the studio side saw it as outlining the fundamentals of the broadcast production timetable. The actors’ union reps have maintained that a comprehensive overhaul of the streaming service revenue system is necessary since performers cannot support themselves in the streaming economy.

SAG-AFTRA and WGA presidents posing at Hollywood Strikes
Credit: SAG-AFTRA Instagram

The union’s demand for 57 cents per year from every streaming subscriber worldwide—or $500 million annually—was the main reason the negotiations broke down. The plan would result in a four-fold increase in the performers’ annual streaming residual income, which is now estimated to be around $126 million.

These four prominent studio heads rejected the request, describing it as “untenable,” and instead proposed to give actors a supplementary residual in the event that their shows draw a substantial audience. The WGA contract, which defines successful shows as those seen by 20% of the platform’s subscribers during the first ninety days of release, is the basis for the plan. The plan, if applied to SAG-AFTRA, would have an annual value of almost $20 million.

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Credit: SAG-AFTRA Instagram

The CEOs’ attendance at the negotiations is an indication of how serious the studios are about reaching a settlement. CEOs seldom engage in such active bargaining for lengthy periods of time; instead, they usually have AMPTP labor lawyers handle much of the bargaining. Critics speculate that the studios fear that they may have to postpone further summer blockbusters and cancel the entire 2023–24 scripted TV season if they do not strike an agreement in the next seven to ten days.

What do you think of the actors’ union request? Should they keep holding out, even if a year’s worth of content faces cancellation for the film studios?

in Entertainment, Television

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