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Hollywood is slowly recovering from the longest and most disruptive strikes in its history, which ended earlier this month after a tentative agreement between the unions and the studios. According to the latest U.S. labor report, the motion picture sector added 17,000 jobs in November, following a loss of 40,000 jobs in October due to the strikes. However, employment in the industry is still below the level of November 2022, when there were 456,000 jobs in the sector.
The strikes, which lasted for six months, affected the production and release of many movies and TV shows, as well as the income and livelihood of thousands of workers. The main issues at stake were the compensation and recognition of the work done for streaming platforms, which have become the dominant force in the entertainment market, especially during the pandemic. The unions also demanded better terms on artificial intelligence, which is increasingly used to create and manipulate content, and pay increases to match the inflation and the cost of living .
The unions and the studios reached a tentative agreement on Dec. 1, which includes new provisions on streaming residuals, artificial intelligence, and pay increases. The agreement was ratified by the unions on Dec. 7, after a majority of their members voted in favor of it. The new contract covers more than 60,000 workers, including actors, writers, producers, directors, and crew members.
The agreement is seen as a historic achievement and a compromise for both sides, as it addresses some of the key issues and concerns of the unions, while also allowing the studios to continue their business and innovation in the streaming age. The agreement also marks the end of a turbulent and uncertain period for the industry, which is still recovering from the impact of the pandemic and the economic downturn .
Employment in Hollywood Rebounds Post-Strikes
The strikes, which began in June and ended in December, exposed the challenges and opportunities of the streaming age, which has transformed the business model and the creative process of Hollywood. Streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max, have become the main source of revenue and content for the industry, especially during the pandemic, when theaters were closed or limited. However, the streaming platforms also posed new problems and demands for the workers, such as the lower and delayed residuals, the shorter and unpredictable production cycles, and the lack of transparency and accountability .
The strikes affected different segments of the industry, such as actors, writers, producers, directors, crew members, and service providers. The most visible and vocal group was the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents more than 50,000 behind-the-scenes workers, such as cinematographers, editors, sound mixers, and costume designers. The IATSE went on strike on Oct. 18, after months of failed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the major studios and networks. The strike halted the production of hundreds of movies and TV shows, causing significant losses and delays for the industry . The strike also affected the actors, writers, producers, and directors, who supported the IATSE and joined the picket lines . The strike also impacted the service providers, such as caterers, drivers, and security guards, who rely on the industry for their income and jobs .
The strikes influenced the consumer behavior and preferences, such as the demand for streaming content, the willingness to pay for subscriptions, and the interest in alternative forms of entertainment. The strikes reduced the supply and variety of new content, as many movies and TV shows were postponed or canceled . The strikes also increased the competition and fragmentation of the streaming market, as consumers had to choose among multiple platforms and services, each with their own pricing and offerings . The strikes also encouraged the consumers to explore other forms of entertainment, such as video games, podcasts, and books, which were less affected by the strikes and offered more diversity and accessibility .
The new contract terms address some of the key issues and concerns of the unions, such as the fair compensation and recognition of their work, the protection of their rights and interests, and the adaptation to the changing technology and market. The new contract includes a 10% increase in streaming residuals, a 3% annual wage increase, a 12-hour turnaround time between shifts, a limit on the use of artificial intelligence without consent, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives. The new contract also establishes a new framework for the future negotiations, as it sets a precedent and a standard for the industry and the society.
The industry is expected to recover and grow in the post-strike era, such as the resumption and acceleration of production and release schedules, the improvement and innovation of quality and diversity of content, and the expansion and retention of audience and revenue. The industry is eager to resume and accelerate the production and release of the movies and TV shows that were affected by the strikes, as well as to start new projects that were delayed or postponed . The industry is also keen to improve and innovate the quality and diversity of the content, as it faces the challenge and opportunity of meeting the consumer demand and expectation, as well as the social and cultural responsibility . The industry is also hopeful to expand and retain the audience and revenue, as it leverages the potential and power of the streaming platforms, as well as the reopening and revival of the theaters .
In conclusion, the strikes, which were the longest and most disruptive in Hollywood history, have left a lasting mark on the industry and the society. The strikes revealed the tensions and transformations of the streaming age, which has reshaped the entertainment landscape and the working conditions of the workers. The strikes also affected the production and consumption of content, as well as the income and livelihood of thousands of people.
The new contract, which was ratified by the unions on Dec. 7, represents a historic achievement and a compromise for both sides. The new contract addresses some of the key issues and concerns of the unions, such as the streaming residuals, the artificial intelligence, and the pay increases. The new contract also allows the studios to continue their business and innovation in the streaming market. The new contract also sets a precedent and a standard for the future negotiations, as it reflects the changing technology and market.
The industry, which is still recovering from the pandemic and the economic downturn, faces many challenges and opportunities in the future. The industry needs to resume and accelerate the production and release of the movies and TV shows that were affected by the strikes, as well as to start new projects that were delayed or postponed. The industry also needs to improve and innovate the quality and diversity of the content, as it faces the challenge and opportunity of meeting the consumer demand and expectation, as well as the social and cultural responsibility. The industry also needs to expand and retain the audience and revenue, as it leverages the potential and power of the streaming platforms, as well as the reopening and revival of the theaters.
The article ends with a quote from a union leader or a studio executive, expressing their hope and vision for the future of Hollywood. For example:
“We are proud of what we have achieved with this contract, which recognizes and respects the work and the rights of our members. We are also grateful for the support and solidarity of our fellow unions and the public. We hope that this contract will pave the way for a more fair and sustainable industry, where everyone can thrive and create.” – Matthew Loeb, International President of IATSE
“Although the strikes were difficult and costly for both sides, we are glad that we have reached a mutually beneficial agreement that ends the dispute and restores the normalcy of the industry. We appreciate the professionalism and the creativity of the workers, who are the backbone of our industry. We look forward to working together with them to produce and deliver the best content for our audiences and customers.” – Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association