Progress pending a possible end clap? Speculation was rife in Hollywood on Friday, the fourth day of a new round of negotiations that could end the writers' strike that has paralyzed the industry for nearly five months.
The studios and the WGA, the union of feathers of the industry, have resumed since Wednesday their talks on the sharing of streaming revenues and the regulation of the use of artificial intelligence, after almost a month of radio silence.
Signs of progress are emerging from trade, according to industry observers. The big pundits of Disney (Bob Iger), Netflix (Ted Sarandos), Warner Bros (David Zaslav) and NBCUniversal (Donna Langley), returned Thursday around the table Thursday. They were present Friday, according to the specialized magazine Deadline.
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In another encouraging sign, the WGA and employers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), issued a joint statement on Wednesday evening announcing 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 that brought the industry to a virtual standstill.
Since mid-July, actors have also been on strike, paralyzing the vast majority of film and television production in the United States. In early September, the Financial Times reported on a study by the Milken Institute that estimated the cost of this double social movement, unprecedented since 1960, at $ 5 billion for the California economy. Writers and actors share similar demands.
Sharing streaming revenue remains the sinews of war: they want to be able to earn much more when one of their films or series hits a hit on a platform, instead of receiving a lump sum payment, usually quite low, regardless of the popularity of the program. Both trades also want safeguards against the use of artificial intelligence: actors fear having their image or voice cloned, while screenwriters fear that AI could be used for scripts and that they will be paid less, or that their scripts will be used to train robots. Even if there was an agreement between studios and writers, the actors would remain on strike. Their union, SAG-AFTRA, has not spoken to employers since mid-July. But according to the specialized press, an agreement with the feathers of the industry would pave the way for an end to the strike of comedians.