“The corporate greed has made it very difficult for people to have lives,” Susan Sarandon
On August 10, Hollywood screenwriters had already been on strike for 100 days, they were followed by actors in mid-July, which made this movement visible through their various actions and had a significant impact.
Faced with major disagreements with the studios on a better distribution of income related to streaming and possible safeguards to regulate the use of artificial intelligence, the conflict could continue until the fall, or even the end of the year.
When Hollywood sneezes, every film festival in the world catches a cold. Although the DGA (Directors Guild of America) has reached an agreement with the studios and even if it is not as much as it requested, an increase in royalties to match the many views on the streaming platforms has been poorly obtained. The WGA (Writers Guild of America), which opened hostilities on May 2, was less fortunate. On August 22, its representatives left yet another attempt at conciliation with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which brings together studios and platforms like Disney and Netflix, by slamming the door.
Faced with the exponential resurgence of feature films and the proliferation of their distribution on streaming platforms, authors are asking for an increase in their salaries and their benefits. The actors, via the SAG (Screen Actors Guide) engage, or rather disengage, demanding more or less the same thing, but also that the studios legislate on their image
rights in relation to the use of artificial intelligence.
Since these claims, nothing has changed. No more filming, no more promotion, even no more writing, or pitching projects to potential producers, let alone brainstorming with screenwriters on scenarios! And beware of unionized artists who do not respect the instructions issued by the WGA and the SAG.
"From the moment you are part of one of these unions, you belong to them; I cannot dissociate myself, otherwise I will be excluded", confides an actress in the making. So what? Can we ask ourselves... So what? To be removed from the SAG or the WGA is to lose enormous benefits related to retirement or mutual insurance, but it is also a guarantee that you will no longer be offered roles! Even stars of the calibre of Margot Robbie (Barbie) or Leonardo DiCaprio (Killers of the Flower Moon) do not take risks because, in their cases, we are talking huge sums.
Many screenwriters or foreign actors show solidarity with this unique stand-off in the history of Hollywood (which has seen other battles of this kind, but which have never lasted so long).
What about us, simple voyeurs that streaming platforms have transformed into avid image consumers? One actor simply replies, "So far, nothing has really changed on TV. But in a month or two, a guy is going to come home from work and find there's no more new episodes of Law and Order: Special Victim Unit”.
In short, this summer the phenomenal success of the Barbie and Oppenheimer movies offered a breath of fresh air to the movie industry, which is still struggling to recover from a pandemic that severely battered it for three years. The celebrations could however be short-lived, since the return to cinema seems more than ever compromised by a new threat of postponement of films, caused by the strike of American screenwriters and actors. Hollywood studios can continue to release their films during the strike. The problem is that SAG-AFTRA member actors are not allowed to promote it, even on social media.
We must therefore be patient and tell ourselves that all these little people who make us dream are just like us, and depend on a whole real circuit of work constraints which have a long-lasting impact on the future of their lives.
Credits: ABC (Jane Fonda, June Diane Raphael, Lily Tomlin), Derek French/Shutterstock (Susan Sarandon),
Perry Mattfeld Instagram, Jaimie Lee Curtis Instagram (with Melanie Griffiths), Rich Sommer Instagram