How Long Will Hollywood Strikes Last? The Guesses Are Depressing
When writers first took to the picket lines on May 2, Hollywood’s optimists predicted that the two sides could work out their differences by July. Then about 160,000 actors and performers joined the fight. Now, as the strikes stretch on, Hollywood’s favorite guessing game has, for many, become a lot less fun to play. Sure, writers are saying publicly that they’re willing to strike as long as it takes to get the deal they deserve, but privately they’re worrying about when they’ll see their next paycheck. Even Disney CEO Bob Iger, who in July called the actors’ and writers’ demands “just not realistic,” has taken a more conciliatory tone. “It is my fervent hope that we quickly find solutions to the issues that have kept us apart these past few months, and I am personally committed to working to achieve this result,” he said during a call with investors on Wednesday.
On Friday, August 11, the Writers Guild of America is formally returning to the negotiating table with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. But most people agree that the writers won’t return to work until fall at the earliest. And though they seem likely to get a deal done before the actors, there won’t be much work to do until SAG-AFTRA finalizes its own contract. Below, a handful of industry sources give us their anonymous (read: unvarnished) thoughts about just how nigh the end is.
Why: I think August is out and so is September. It largely boils down to the Hollywood calendar. Labor Day and Jewish holidays make September tough to get things done. If you can’t sell a pitch at certain times of the year, you probably can’t settle a strike then either. When that asshole said they were going to make us lose our houses and apartments by the end of October, that wasn’t a random date. The end of October is a very real deadline on the calendar because nothing gets done in November and December.
Why: I’m an optimist. I have to believe in that because I’ll pull out my hair if it goes beyond that. We’ve already blown through 90 days. That’s crazy. Now you’re seeing people reporting their losses—Endeavor said [it expects to lose] $25 million a month—because people need to feel like we’re all suffering together. My fear is that this is a Q4 consideration and we refresh in 2024, which would be really damaging to a lot of companies and people and businesses, from Hollywood to restaurants to everything else.
Why: All of us, the studios and the streamers, are having to assess what it’s like to put out these very expensive investments without the support of talent. Is that a sustainable model? The intensity and the need to really address it are reaching a critical point. We’re operating on a mid-October conclusion for both strikes, just in terms of business planning. Is that accurate? Is that real? Crystal balls are pretty foggy, but that seems to be the conventional wisdom.
Prediction: Early 2024
Why: I don’t think the sides will truly start talking for a few months. Emotions are still too high, and SAG striking reactivated even the lesser emotional ranks of the WGA. Once the holidays get closer, the financial realities will calm everything down on the guilds’ side. On the studio side, I’m guessing the legacy media companies—who are hurting much more than the tech streamers—will start pressuring the others to either come back, or jump out of the AMPTP. Overall, the AMPTP needs are not aligned, and the guilds aren’t aligned, but they both are going to have to eventually give. And it’ll take a few months once they truly begin, in earnest, to hammer out a deal.
Prediction: Not anytime soon
Why: More and more it feels like this strike is going through November and then everyone will tune out until year’s end. Everyone is really anxious. There’s no end in sight, and it’s relentless.