From Marvel to Netflix, the studios behind a slew of series and films have both voluntarily and involuntarily halted filming as the strike hits its second week, with multiple studios threatening showrunners with salary cuts and potential legal action.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike has officially begun its second week of picketing, as an agreement has not yet been reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
A work stoppage began last Tuesday after negotiations with the labor group representing studios and streamers faltered. In LA, members picketed at Amazon/Culver Studios, CBS Radford and CBS Television City, Disney’s Burbank headquarters, Netflix’s Hollywood plant and the Fox, Sony, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Universal studio lots, among other locations. New York picketing also occurred at Peacock’s Newfront at Center415 and Netflix’s Manhattan headquarters.
Multiple projects have been affected due to the ongoing negotiations. Notably, Netflix’s Stranger Things has delayed the start of season 5 production, with the Duffers stating on Twitter, “Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work.” Also screeching to a halt are The Venery of Samantha Bird, Unstable, Blade, and Hacks. Shoots for Apple’s Loot and FX’s American Horror Story were shut down due to striking writers, while a prop vehicle for Billions was temporarily blocked, after which shoots continued.
Amazon Prime Video’s The Rings of Power continues filming sans showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. The show’s non-writing executive producers (Lindsey Weber), directors (Charlotte Brändström, Sanaa Hamri and Louise Hooper) and crew will oversee production for the series’ last 19 days of shoots.
Unfortunately, not everyone is on board with WGA’s push for higher minimum pay, bigger writing rooms, shorter exclusive contracts, and fundamental changes to residual pay. Both HBO/HBO Max and Disney (among others) have issued less-than-supportive statements aimed at the movement.
A May 2 letter from Warner Bros. Discovery to showrunners and executive producers stated, “If you are a WGA member, HBO/HBO Max respects your membership in the WGA, and we will not do anything to place you in jeopardy of WGA rules. However, we believe certain services, such as participating in the cast process and/or contributing to non-writing production, and post-production work are clear examples of non-WGA required services that should continue to be rendered during this time. […] Further, if production is interrupted by the strike, even if you offer to continue to work, HBO/HBO Max will not be obliged to continue your salary, nor the salary of the cast and crew.”
Similarly, a representative from Disney stated, “We want specifically to reiterate to you as a showrunner or other writer-producer that you are not excused from performing your duties as a showrunner and/or producer on your series as a result of the WGA strike. Studio intends to stay in production during the WGA strike and we are legally entitled to do so.”
Not to be deterred, one showrunner told Deadline, “Those studio emails have had the opposite intended effect. Now we are more united, more convinced than ever that there is no non-writing aspect of what we do."