Hollywood’s ongoing dual strike could soon spell doom for the entertainment industry, several studio execs have warned – predicting fewer movie releases and more reruns early next year if the situation isn’t resolved by September.
The prediction, aired by three prominent studio heads on Tuesday, comes as a twin strike by writers and actors in tinsel town brought the industry to a virtual standstill last week.
Following the decision of the Screen Actors Guild to join forces with the Writers Guild – which has been on strike since May – many big-budget films in progress were forced to shut down immediately.
Affected productions included the anticipated sequels Deadpool 3 and Gladiator 2, as well as the Tom Hardy-led Venom 3. Twisters – an update of the 1996 film starring Daisy Edgar-Jones – was also put on hiatus. TV series like Sydney Sweeney’s Euphoria were not spared, with season three of the show pushed back to 2025.
And while Labor Day is just six weeks away, release delays for affected projects could stretch to six months as production on major movies and TV shows is organized.
For an industry that was already struggling due to the rise of streaming, the shutdown is particularly problematic. Speaking anonymously to The New York Times on Tuesday, industry experts said the next few weeks will be crucial.
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Experts say the dual actor-writers’ strike could continue for months, predicting fewer movie releases and more reruns early next year if the situation is not resolved by September.
– Many big-budget films that were in progress were forced to shut down immediately. Affected productions include the anticipated sequel Deadpool 3
Citing the external influence of the Actors Guild and the reasons why hundreds of scripts are now stalled, they said if the strikes are not settled by Labor Day, they will begin to affect America in a big way.
At that point, three separate studio chairs said the film and TV show release calendar for 2024 could be strained beyond repair, leaving the fate of the projects up in the air during the pandemic.
A shutdown of a month or more doesn’t worry them, The Times reported — three executives said studios could easily postpone spending money on preproduction and bidding on scripts until the industry is back up and running.
They added that while the projects are still in the works, before reconsidering, they may eliminate the more expensive ones.
One person, head of a chain of 50 cinemas, told the paper: ‘The situation can be managed if it is short enough to prevent an overwhelming backlog of films.’
But if the twin strikes drag on for just two months, they say, it’s a different story.
By then, executives said the movie and TV show release calendar for next year could become so depressed, studios would likely seize the shutdown as an opportunity to save cash during a time of potential uncertainty.
Studios will face a scramble for production due to begin in the fall, with stars still working on movies whose completion was delayed by the strike. There will also be logistical headaches. Sound stages that should be free for new movies and TV shows to start filming will still be full of sets for productions whose completion has been delayed.
More importantly, industry insiders cite how several prominent actors such as Susan Sarandon and SAG boss Fran Drescher – and more importantly their fanbases – are now standing with the writers on their demands, changing the landscape of the conflict.
Series like Sydney Sweeney’s Euphoria were not spared either, with the show’s season three being pushed back to 2025.
Filming on Gladiator 2, starring Paul Mescal (pictured), has been temporarily halted amid possible uncertainty
One person, the head of a chain of 50 cinemas, told the paper: ‘If it is short enough to prevent an overwhelming backlog of films, the situation can be managed’.
The Writer’s Guild strike began in May, and gained momentum last week when actors joined their demands. Experts say the September strike will hurt network television, which, aside from scripts, needs actors for new shows coveted by advertisers.
When the studio bosses only went on strike, they said, they thought a solution that was realistic for both sides was still possible – after an unnamed deadline told Deadline days ago that the studios would ‘bleed out’ underpaid writers until they ‘started ‘ lose their apartment.
But with the added star power of striking celebrities, these writers are better positioned in their search for higher pay to combat inflation and to guarantee their future livelihoods amid advances like AI and streaming, execs said.
Moreover, if actors don’t return to work by the fall, analyst Michael Nathanson said, several studios will likely opt to save money they would otherwise have spent on preproduction.
More than anything, he said, the September strike will hurt network television, where advertisers need actors for lucrative new shows.
In the event they don’t return to filming by Labor Day, TV viewers can expect the shows to experience perpetual delays and instead be regaled with a constant stream of reruns.
As the pressure mounts, studio executives are — at least publicly — urging both sides of the Hollywood film industry to get back to work.
Industry insiders cite how several prominent actors such as Susan Sarandon and SAG boss Fran Drescher (pictured last week) – and more importantly their fanbases – are now standing up to the writers on their demands, changing the landscape of the conflict.
Drescher leads the actors’ union in joint strike with writers, marking Hollywood’s biggest labor dispute in sixty years
Bob Iger, the boss of The Walt Disney Company and its streaming service Disney Plus, said in an interview at the annual Sun Valley conference last week that the strike would have a “very damaging” effect on both the film and TV industries.
And as this crucial deadline approaches, there has been little indication that a deal is close.
Both sides have blamed the other for the lack of solutions — with strikers portraying people like Iger and Warner Bros.’s David Zaslav as villains.
Meanwhile, the state of the industry and its myriad unreleased projects is suffering – many experts now say the dual actor-writers’ strike could last for months.
Ellen Stutzman, chief negotiator for the Writers Guild of America, criticized the current standoff in comments to the Journal.
“It’s foolish to do nothing as a cost-saving strategy, because the TV season is fast approaching and advertisers and consumers are expecting new programming,” he said of the stalemate.
Nathanson added to the LA Times: ‘We’re looking at class warfare,’ ‘working class people taking out their anger on studio executives.’
That said, both sides seem to agree on one thing – if Hollywood doesn’t solve the crisis in time, everyone will feel the effects.
Speaking to the Journal on Tuesday, Jonathan Taplin of USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab said he doesn’t predict a painless solution in the next few weeks.
‘This will not end well.’
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