Progress while waiting for a possible end? Speculation was rife in Hollywood on Friday, the fourth day of a new negotiating session that could end the screenwriters' strike that has paralyzed the industry for nearly five months.
The studios and the WGA, the industry's union of writers, have resumed their talks since Wednesday on sharing revenue from streaming and regulating the use of artificial intelligence, after almost a month of radio silence.
Signs of progress are emerging from the discussions, according to industry observers. The big names from Disney (Bob Iger), Netflix (Ted Sarandos), Warner Bros (David Zaslav) and NBCUniversal (Donna Langley), returned to the table on Thursday. They were present on Friday. According to Variety, progress has been made on both camps. Negotiations have reportedly entered the delicate phase of crafting legal language that both sides can agree on. Sources close to the screenwriters' guild remain cautious and report that serious concerns persist about the appearance of potential loopholes and legal loopholes during this stage.
Another encouraging sign, the WGA and the employers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), published a joint press release Wednesday evening to announce the extension of the talks. This unusual approach raises hopes that an agreement is imminent, according to many observers. At the very least, it indicates a narrowing of the gap between the two parties, after 144 days of strike which virtually brought the industry to a standstill.
Since mid-July, actors have also been on strike, which paralyzes the vast majority of film and television series production in the United States. At the beginning of September, the Financial Times reported a study by the Milken Institute which estimated the cost of this double social movement, unseen since 1960, at $5 billion for the Californian economy. Screenwriters and actors share similar demands.
The sharing of revenues linked to streaming remains the crux of the matter: they want to be able to earn much more when one of their films or series is a hit on a platform, instead of receiving a lump sum payment, generally quite low, regardless of popularity. from the program. The two trades also want safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence: actors fear seeing their image or voice cloned, while screenwriters fear that AI could be used for scripts and that they are paid less, or that their scenarios are used to train robots. Even in the event of an agreement between studios and screenwriters, the actors would remain on strike. Their union, SAG-AFTRA, has not spoken to the employers since mid-July. But according to the specialist press, an agreement with industry leaders would pave the way for an end to the actors' strike.