With an excitement in the air of the WGA and AMPTP’s tentative deal and scribes poised to return to daytime and late-night TV talk shows, the new agreement’s impact on the motion picture side may not be as immediate given how those unfinished feature productions hinge on studios settling with SAG-AFTRA.
With the possibility of writers’ rooms returning to work during the ratification vote by the guild before the contract is sealed, there could be situations where a TV series in the works will take precedence over a film project once actors return, and vice versa. It’s a situation on par with what occurred during Covid: Scheduling conflicts with actors are bound to ensue once the industry is fully back up in running. Read, there was a situation during Covid where Nicholas Hoult had to drop out of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning -Part One due to its duties on Hulu’s The Great. We could see similar situations where a project loses an actor due to their commitment on a first priority project as TV rooms will be pumping out scripts much faster than those scribes on the feature side.
As Peter White reported today, there is optimism that the majority of network dramas and comedies will be able to launch in the new year thanks to news of a pending deal last night. Should the SAG-AFTRA strike end in the near future, most feature productions are eyeing a 2024 start or re-start date. That also gives studios plenty of time to get their below-the-lines crews together, in addition to cast, which could resolve potential scheduling conflicts with actors.
As expected due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, the 2024 theatrical release schedule remains in great flux. One motion picture marketing source over the weekend characterized next year’s release calendar as “not real,” meaning it remains in question whether movies which haven’t completed production, i.e. Marvel Studios/Disney’s Deadpool 3 (currently dated for May 3, 2024) and Mission: Impossible 8 (June 28, 2024), and Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse (TBD), the latter which requires plenty of voiceover work, even meet their release dates.
That said, the silver linings for motion picture studios given the tentative agreement are that scribes can now huddle with directors if needed should uncompleted movies require any polishing. In addition to the movies above, we understand that Warner Bros.’ Jenna Ortega Beetlejuice movie has a few more days left of production before it’s 100% wrapped. Paramount’s Gladiator sequel from Ridley Scott also requires more shooting.
In addition, any screenplays that weren’t delivered prior to the strike, those writers would soon be able to finish them.
Also, studios can start meeting with candidates and putting offers out on open writing assignments (OWAs) on films, i.e. the new DC’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which has Andy Muschietti set as director.
As for the spec market, while there may be a pickup as writers’ reps can now submit original scripts from clients to studio execs. Some sources with writing clients believe the immediate market will be slow, and that there’s apt to be a bigger uptick after SAG-AFTRA ends their strike. The reason being that actors are being cautious about attaching to packages due to the optics during the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Also, with the deal points of the tentative agreement not public yet, it remains to be seen what the precise gains were for feature writers. We could learn as soon as tomorrow when the WGAE and WGAW vote on the approval of the new deal, or in the next few days when it’s sent for ratification. In the Aug. 11 proposal from AMPTP to scribes, made public on Aug. 22, an offer was made for feature scribes, who are employed on the first draft of an original screenplay, to receive the first opportunity to perform a rewrite at no less than the applicable minimum compensation. Also offered at that time by studios were increases for feature writers of SVOD movies with writers on projects of 96 minutes or more with a budget of $40M or more made for an SVOD platform with 20M or more subscribers seeing an increase of $100K (+18.3%). Also studios proposed that the residual base would increase by 25.7% to $75K.
We’ll update you as we learn more about feature writers’ benefits, and the motion picture industry’s maneuvers, from the new deal.