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1 Sep

What to Watch: Dual Strikes Come at an Inflection

What to Watch: Dual Strikes Come at an Inflection

The industry is within the midst of the primary concurrent writers and actors strike in greater than 60 years — 11,500 WGA members began walking picket lines on May 2, while the 160,000-member Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists walked off the job on July 14.

The twin work stoppage has effectively made Hollywood a tumbleweed festooned desert with top actors unable to advertise long-in-the-can projects at film festivals or appear at awards shows — leading to almost a complete suspension of the red carpets which might be now so vital to the luxurious and fashion worlds. The seventy fifth Primetime Emmy Awards, which were originally scheduled for Sept. 18, have been postponed until January.

Director Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” which stars Zendaya, was pulled because the opening night attraction on the Venice Film Festival, which runs through Sept. 9. The fest will go on: some actors appearing in independent movies can take part in the festival care of interim agreements exempting them from the strike ban on promotional appearances and Giorgio Armani will stage a couture runway show through the fest that is predicted to attract a slew of celebrities. But “Challengers” will now premiere in April 2024, assuming the SAG strike has been settled by then.

The implications, nonetheless major for the entertainment industry, are also significant for the style world. Film and award show red carpets have turn into vital marketing vehicles for luxury fashion, beauty and jewellery brands as the celebs — and their stylists — have used their social followings to advertise the looks they’re wearing, often in return for a hefty paycheck. With fashion weeks approaching, it’ll be interesting to see what number of actors turn up in front rows in Latest York, London, Milan and Paris, and if brands are willing to pay them to achieve this if there aren’t any projects to advertise. (Meanwhile, stylists within the U.K. have also stepped up their labor activism, forming a union to fight for higher pay from brands.)

But movies are removed from the largest game on the town any longer, because of the standard now being put out on television. There, the work stoppages will lead to a dearth of latest scripted series and more reality and news programming that networks have traditionally used as schedule spackle, even when many viewers don’t watch TV on a prescribed timetable anymore. There may also be many, many reruns of scripted series.

NBC has been forced to drag most of its original crime dramas, including its Wednesday lineup of Chicago-set dramas and replace them with unscripted series and reruns, while returning series including the ParamountPlus western “1923,” the fourth season of the Netflix drama “Emily in Paris” and the third season of ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” are among the many dozens of shows which have been delayed indefinitely. Fans of HBO’s “Euphoria” – who last saw recent episodes of the Zendaya hit way back in early 2022 – may have to attend until 2025 for the third season of the show.

SAG-AFTRA members protesting in solidarity with striking WGA staff outside Netflix offices on July 11 in Los Angeles.

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The last SAG strike in 1980 — which included 67,000 members and lasted six months — was primarily over residuals for in-home entertainment, in other words, VHS versions of flicks and TV shows. The WGA in 2007-08 won residuals for DVDs and what was then called “recent media.” But this time, the sticking points for the writers and the actors, including streaming residuals, minimum staffing requirements and guardrails around generative AI, are exacerbated by a painful disruption within the industry’s business model.

The industry is within the throes of a crisis because it transitions from a stable business that relied on linear promoting and the highly profitable cable bundle to streaming video, which relies on consumers paying a monthly premium to a growing batch of streamers. There have been greater than 100 million U.S. households subscribing to cable television in 2003. Today, there are only over 60 million, in accordance with Statista. And that number goes nowhere but down as consumers avail themselves of the myriad pay and free ad-supported direct-to-consumer offerings. By 2027, Statisa predicts the variety of U.S. households subscribing to cable will drop below 50 million.

For the primary half of the yr, the movie box office was down 21 percent in comparison with 4 years ago. The variety of releases are also down; AMC Entertainment, the 100-year-old theater chain, is teetering on the sting of bankruptcy.

It’s why media firms have invested a lot in direct-to-consumer streaming options. However the streaming stock price bloodbath that kicked off in the primary quarter of 2022 — when Netflix revealed its first subscriber loss and Wall Street reacted by sending stock prices of so many revenue losing streamers tumbling — has yet to be stanched. Disney has racked up $10 billion in losses on Disney+ because the service launched in 2019. For the second quarter this yr, the service lost 4 million subscribers. Warner Bros. Discovery lost 1.8 million subscribers in the identical quarter. Lots of them — including previously ad-averse Netflix — have introduced ad-supported tiers in a bid for revenue.

The industry has weathered disruptions, and strikes, up to now. But this work stoppage also has a cultural dimension, which can make it harder to unravel. The yawning wealth chasm in America fueled by deregulation and the casino mentality of Wall Street has inflamed tensions between the unions and the studios. There may be a reason unions are ascendant in cultural and inventive professions. A-list headliners can be positive. However the unions are fighting for the journeymen actors and writers of their ranks who’ve found it harder to eke out a living in an industry that appears to value its shareholders excess of the individuals who make its content.

David Zaslav, the present chief executive officer of Warner Bros. Discovery, took home near $40 million last yr; the yr before, his salary was an eye-popping $246 million. Yet Warner Bros. Discovery is sitting on almost $50 billion in debt. Bob Iger was paid $27 million annually to return as CEO of Disney after the board ousted Bob Chapek last yr.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 01:  SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher addresses picketers at New York City Hall on Tuesday as members of the actors SAG-AFTRA union continue to walk the picket line with screenwriters outside of major studios across the country on August 01, 2023 in New York City. Drescher spoke ahead of a New York City Council hearing for resolutions backing the striking actors and writers. Members of SAG-AFTRA, Hollywood’s largest union which represents actors and other media professionals, joined striking WGA (Writers Guild of America) workers in the first joint walkout against the studios since 1960.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher addresses picketers at Latest York City Hall on Aug. 1 as members of the actors SAG-AFTRA union proceed to walk the picket line with screenwriters outside of major studios across the country.

Getty Images

Fran Drescher, the previous “Nanny” star and the voluble president of SAG-AFTRA, has characterised these salaries as “disgusting.”

“In some unspecified time in the future you’ve got to say no more,” Drescher told the Associated Press recently. The strike, she said, has “taken on a much bigger scope, it’s greater than the sum of its parts. I feel it’s a conversation now in regards to the culture of massive business, and the way it treats everybody up and down the ladder within the name of profit.”

It’s a let-them-eat-cake moment. How the industry’s C-suite titans navigate it’ll determine the longer term of Hollywood — and maybe the red carpet.

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