We’re in the era of movie studio executives who don’t know how to make movies and shows. Maybe they can synergize tie-in deals. Maybe they can sniff out a hefty tax write-off. But they fundamentally don’t seem to understand the business they’re in.
Our latest proof comes in the revelation of their absolutely despicable tactic to bust the WGA strike: bleed the writers dry instead of negotiating a deal.
“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Another with inside information about the tactic called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”
You heard that, right. It’s cruel and necessary because paying writers a fair wage simply apparently isn’t possible. No other option! Meanwhile, studio heads like new cartoon villain David Zaslav (pictured above) was reportedly paid $246 million in 2021 alone.
Not only is this tactic marked by Big Weakling Energy and profound malice, but it’s also potentially unworkable for two reasons. The first is that the writers aren’t the only ones missing out on paychecks and health insurance. According to estimates, the studios are losing $30 million a day, and California’s economy lost $2 billion over the 100 days of the 2008 WGA strike. Not to mention all of the crew members on movie and TV sets who are now missing paychecks. The second is that, if it succeeds, the studios will have slit their own throats by removing the people who make the movies from the equation. This is like Ford wanting to fire all the people who design cars and then wondering why they don’t have any new cars to sell.
One possibility is that this maximum pain gambit is merely a scare tactic, publicly leaked on the eve of a possible Screen Actors Guild strike following an extension for good faith negotiations. Writers and actors have similar requests — job security and assurances they won’t be replaced by AI — and the actors joining the strike would be overwhelming for studios.
Still, if the only way you know how to make money from a movie is by deleting it from a streaming app, maybe you should find a new line of work.