As we saw throughout the summer and early fall on the news, the Writers Guild of America, or WGA, remained on strike for over five months. So, what does that mean for viewers? The 2023 writers strike was one of the largest interruptions to American film and television since the pandemic, which caused several shows to cancel their original shooting plans as well as reduce their staff.
The WGA asked for numerous changes concerning working conditions, compensation structure, and threats to jobs with AI. While the union was able to reach an agreement in late September, which is great news for those who watch and work in the film industry, there are lingering impacts of the strike that may impact your TV watching.
Check out everything we know about the impact of the 2023 writers strike and the agreement that was struck between the union and studios in Hollywood.
What is the 2023 Writers Strike?
At the WGAE Screenwriters Picket: WGAE Exec Director Lowell Peterson brought insight from the LA negotiating table, & screenwriter Sarah Montana gave great reminders of what we’re fighting for. One day longer, one day stronger ✊ #WGAstrike #WGAstrong #union #writersoftiktok #writersguildofamerica #hollywoodstrike #nyc #fyp #picket #writersstrike #1u #sagaftrastrike #sagaftra #SAGAFTRAstrong #trending #foryou♬ original sound – wgaeast
Beginning May 2, 2023, the WGA, which represents 11,500 screenwriters, went on strike over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP.
After the WGA walked off, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) went on strike as well on July 14. Both were stuck in contract negotiations with the AMPTP for about five months fighting for better .
They began picketing outside of major studios in Los Angeles like Amazon, Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros., and more.
The last strike that the WGA performed was in 1988, which lasted 154 days. Another big writer strike happened between 2007 and 2008, which had a huge impact on reality TV and competition shows. As of October 2nd, the 2023 writers strike went on for 148 days. This nearly beat the longest strike ever, but luckily, an agreement was able to be reached between the studios and the WGA union.
WGA Main Issues
The WGA asked for a number of changes, but the biggest focus in the labor dispute was compensation. The WGA claimed that AMPTP’s share of residuals has cut much of the writers’ average income compared to a decade ago.
Writers also want nothing to do with AI, or Artificial Intelligence, such as ChatGPT. They believe that it should only be used as a tool that can help with research or script ideas, but not a tool that could potentially replace them or their creativity.
Studios have also started reducing the size of writers’ rooms, which causes more work and they are unfairly paid for additional effort. What once was twelve writers working on shows like Friends, are now only four or five writers, so the WGA made a point of asking for more screenwriting opportunities.
Did the 2023 Writers Strike End?
Yes, as of September 27th, the WGA board approved conditions proposed by the Hollywood production companies. Then, the union and its members voted in favor of the deal, which solidified the end of the 2023 writers strike on October 2nd, 2023.
What Terms Were Agreed Upon?
There is now a three year agreement between the WGA and The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which is who represented the Hollywood studios in the negotiations.
In the 2023 deal reached as a result of the writers strike, writers have been granted the terms they were originally seeking when the strike first began. Specifically, they will not have to use artificial intelligence as it has been banned from the writing process. Also, the minimum pay for writers has been increased by 3.5-5% depending on seniority.
Other notable parts of this agreement include a minimum amount of time that a writer has to be employed and bonus potential based on show popularity.
2023 Writers Strike Effect on TV and Movies
The biggest change that viewers will see is a temporary delay or reduction in upcoming shows and films. While there are some key differences depending on the programs you watch, the main thing is that you might not see your most anticipated upcoming film on its original release date. Scripted shows and movies will be the slowest to return to normal, but unscripted and late night shows shouldn’t be affected much any more this fall.
The good news is that most streaming platforms have shows prepared and backed up ready for release, so delays here are not likely now that an agreement has been struck.
Netflix stated that they have a large backlog of upcoming shows and films from around the world that will get them through the impact of the 2023 writers strike without too much change.
HBO Max, which is now known as Max, also planned a backlog of shows that they can release in preparation of their rebranding. As a result, it seems that most streaming platforms are confident in their content library, so they do not anticipate delays or problems rolling out their upcoming releases.
Thankfully, most shows will be able to end their seasons uninterrupted by the 2023 writers strike. Some daytime soap operas and late night live shows were hit hard as content was not written far in advance. But, as we mentioned, any scripted shows were able to finish at their usual pace.
News shows continued as normal, as their writers are covered by a different union, as well as unscripted shows like Big Brother and The Bachelor.
For scripted shows, however, most have been a bit delayed. Examples of shows that have been delayed or paused include Law and Order, The Last of Us, Outlander, Euphoria, and several more. Since the 2023 writers strike has come to an end, shows can resume writing new episodes. However, there is no doubt that this major strike had an impact on those who work on TV shows and movies, so a bit of time will be needed to resume normal production.
Be sure to check your favorite upcoming TV shows and movies for 2024 to see if new release dates have been predicted. Luckily, with a positive new agreement that gives writers fair compensation, everything should resume back to normal for the next three years under this contract.
Late Night Shows
For SNL and late night shows, viewers noticed immediate changes as the strike impacts these kinds of live shows the most. These shows are based on current events, and without writers, it is not possible to produce new shows. Several shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, and more had to halt production and only aired re-runs.
However, they are back on air as of October 2023 and making happy jokes about resuming their production like this spoof of the Kardashians shown above.
Thankfully, another region that won’t be hit directly are movies. Since they take so long to produce, studios have a pipeline of movies already written and shot. The strike would have to last several years to interrupt the film releases.
But while most movies already in production won’t take a hit, there are some variables in the air right now. Even though film scripts are complete, writers were not be able to be on set to help rewrite or edit scenes as needed. As a result, there could be slight delays in 2025 or 2026 for movies that were in very early stages of production this past spring and summer.
Daniel Craig shared a statement based on how hard it was to make Quantum of Solace, as he was working as a writer. Re-writing as a film is in production is more common than people may realize.
While the impact of 2023 writers strike may affect our viewing abilities in the future, we should be grateful that they were able to reach an agreement that benefits the hardworking writers in Hollywood. Most writers had to take on side jobs because they thought the strike might last longer than it did. Now, they can feel more secure in their roles and fair pay to continue to bring us joyful entertainment on screen.
Actors and filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan stood alongside the writers stating that he would not work on another film until the strike was resolved. While the production pause may have put a damper on your nightly TV shows, it’s important to recognize the result of the 2023 writers strike, which absolutely turned out to be positive.
Now, writers, actors, and filmmakers alike can get back to working on their upcoming releases without fear of unfair production practices.