WGA and AMPTP Reach Landmark Deal: Everything You Need to Know
In a historic development for Hollywood, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have successfully negotiated a ground-breaking contract, putting an end to one of the longest work stoppages in the industry's history. After 148 days of intense strike action and numerous contentious negotiations, the WGA members have voted overwhelmingly to ratify the new Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA). This pivotal agreement, which is set to run from September 25, 2023, through May 1, 2026, has far-reaching implications for writers and the entertainment industry as a whole.
The WGA's demands were initially met with fierce opposition from Hollywood companies, setting the stage for a lengthy standoff. However, the tireless efforts of the WGA members and the intervention of influential figures in the industry, including Donna Langley, Ted Sarandos, David Zaslav, and Bob Iger, eventually paved the way for a resolution.
One of the most significant victories for the WGA is the substantial pay increases achieved. Over the course of three years, writers will receive pay raises of 5%, 4%, and 3.5%. While the 5% increase represents a historically high figure, it is worth noting that the impact of these raises is somewhat reduced by the high inflation rates experienced in recent years.
Additionally, the WGA secured staffing minimums for writers' rooms, a crucial development in promoting fair and diverse employment practices in the industry. Another landmark achievement is the introduction of unprecedented viewership-based streaming bonuses for high-budget streaming films and series. This means that writers will receive bonuses equal to 50% of the fixed domestic and foreign residuals for content viewed by at least 20% of a platform's US subscriber base within the first 90 days or the first 90 days of any subsequent exhibition year. These bonuses will become effective for titles released after January 1, 2024, and will provide significant financial incentives for writers.
The agreement also addresses the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in content creation. It stipulates that AI entities are not considered writers under the MBA, meaning that scripts generated by AI are not deemed literary material, source material, or assigned material. However, the use of writers' material to train large language models by studios and streamers remains a point of contention. Disputes arising from this issue are expected to be resolved through arbitration.
The successful negotiation of the new Minimum Basic Agreement between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers marks a historic turning point in Hollywood. Writers secured substantial pay increases, staffing minimums, and viewership-based streaming bonuses, providing greater financial stability and fairness in the industry. The agreement also addresses the role of AI in content creation. While the strikes have had significant economic implications, the resolution of this long-standing dispute brings optimism for the future of Hollywood.