For all of the television and film fanatics out there, you have our sympathies. You may have experienced boredom the past few months after Hollywood screenwriters and actors went on strike for almost five months. The effects of the strikes go beyond boredom, however, and hold many implications for the international entertainment industry.
The two labor unions driving this movement are The Writers Guild of America, which aims to improve compensation, working conditions, and job security concerning AI, and The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which aims to improve wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits. These strikes have such large-scale impacts, that the Emmys were postponed. The televised awards ceremony was initially scheduled for September 18, 2033; now, it has been pushed back to January 15, 2024, with hopes that the strikes will subside during the postponement period.
While many may think these strikes solely impact the United States economy, this is not true. What often escapes consideration, is the film industry's global interconnected components. For example, countless major Hollywood productions are being filmed in Britain and have a staff of local United Kingdom residents. This has been the case for decades, creating a strong but reliant relationship between American producers and British film teams.
According to a survey by Bectu (a union for British film workers), 80% of workers reported the strikes impacted their jobs. The impact is so substantial, that the Film and TV Charity, a foundation that supports film workers struggling financially, received over an 860% increase in requests for hardship grants.
Not only do strikes impact the film industry, but they also create ripple effects on other industries across the United Kingdom. Liverpool, the most-filmed-in city in the United Kingdom, only behind London, recently had eight million euros in public funding added to their regeneration project for Littlewoods Studios- an already 70 million euro project. The project involves renovating a building originally built in the 1930s into one of the country’s largest production sites. Before regeneration construction began in 2018, the building had been sitting vacant for decades.
With the help of additional funding, two more sound stages have been added to the construction project. However, if Hollywood strikes continue and international filming diminishes, the construction investment may experience significantly less return. In addition to decreased film revenue, many hotels and restaurants that would otherwise be experiencing a high volume of business that comes with international film crews have incurred a loss of income.
The Hollywood strikes have also negatively impacted many streaming services, notably Hulu. Out of the top eight streaming services- Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Paramount+, and Peacock- customers were most likely to discontinue their Hulu subscription, blaming content delays that were a direct result of the strikes.
However, this has not been the case for all streaming services. For example, Netflix has been utilizing its international relationships with film studios worldwide to focus on expanding global market reach. The company has specifically focused on South Korea recently, and some of the shows they have produced have turned into international hits. Over 60% of all Netflix members watched Korean titles last year.
In the long term, these strikes are not sustainable for any industry in international business. Writers and actors in the United States and abroad can only survive so long off their savings without work, and eventually, the public will grow tired of watching recycled media. Fortunately, things are looking up; the Writers Guild of America struck a tentative deal involving increased royalties for streaming content and job security regarding AI. However, no writers will be returning to work and no new content will be released until the contract is finalized, leaving the fate of the film industry up in the air.