Hollywood is embroiled in all-out war in the wake of a pandemic and streaming revolution

NEW YORK (AP) — To get a sense of how much animosity is circulating around Hollywood these days, watch how Ron Perlman responded to a report that studios took aim at. prolongation of strike long enough Writers lose their homes.

Perlman, the gritty-voiced “Hellboy” actor, leaned over to the camera In a since-deleted Instagram Live video to vent his anger. “Listen to me, Mom (expletive),” Perelman said. “There are so many ways to lose your home.”

Three years after the pandemic stopped in Hollywood, the film and television industry has stopped again. This time around, though, the industry is locked in a bitter fight over how to stream — next It progresses rapidly during an epidemic Turning entertainment economics upside down.

Having survived the plague, Hollywood is now fully at war in their Apocalypse Now double feature. When tens of thousands of Screen Actors Guild of American television and radio artists hit the picket lines last week, joining 11,000 screenwriters from the WGA who have been on strike since May, A smaller collision that became nuclear in time Oppenheimer’s release. At a time when high-profile actors and writers are being packed into plenty of studio and streaming headquarters, Puck’s Matthew Bellone writes, “The city is burning to the ground.”

said Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA, at The fiery press conference strike declaration. “We will not continue to make incremental changes to a contract that no longer respects what is happening now with this business model that has been forced upon us.

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“What do we do?” she added. “Moving around furniture on the Titanic?”

Disaster was also looming in Hollywood when, in March 2020, COVID-19 shut down movie theaters, emptied television studios, and halted all production. Recovery continues. Over the weekend, one of the first major film productions shut down by the pandemic — “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1” — only hit theaters. And as Its grand opening but not blockbuster It showed, however, that some pre-pandemic Hollywood still isn’t coming back. The box office remains around 20-25% of its pre-pandemic pace.

“We’ve talked about the disruptive forces in this business and all the challenges we face, and the recovery from COVID that’s still going on. This is the worst time in the world to add to this disruption,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said Thursday.

Although many of SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America’s demands are old, much of the current feud gathered steam in the days of the pandemic. A digital rush into streaming followed, as studios, in many cases, scrambled to manufacture their own Netflix competitors. Subscriber growth has become a top priority.

An entire era of change has condensed into two years, says Rahul Telang, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and co-author of Streaming, Sharing, and Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment.

“What’s happening now was bound to happen. With broadcasting, the whole business has been disrupted,” says Telang. “So naturally, they’re complaining, ‘We need our fair share.’” But how do you decide what is a fair share? There needs to be transparency about where the money comes from and where it goes. Until this issue is resolved, this problem will continue to reappear.”

The last time screen actors and writers hit it off simultaneously, in 1960, unions created royalty payments (leftovers later) for reruns of movies and TV episodes, among other notable protections. If this hit counted with the dawn of television, this hit does the same for the broadcast age.

But broadcasting, especially when companies carefully guard audience numbers, doesn’t provide as easy a metric as box office or TV ratings for determining hangovers—a key part of how writers and actors make a living. SAG-AFTRA seeks a small percentage of subscriber revenue, with data measured by a third party, Parrot Analytics.

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AMPTP, which is negotiating on behalf of the studios, disagreed but says the studios have offered the actors “historic salaries and residual raises,” along with pension contributions and other protections.

Meanwhile, the actors are sharing photos of their meager residual payments for streaming hits. Kimiko Glenn from Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” posted a clip of the remaining photos Total payments $27.30.

“You used to be able to work on a radio show, one show and you’re good for the year because of the leftovers,” actor Nashika Vinterpool said at the sit-up rows. “And then you have a flush coming in and you get 20 cents left on the check. It affects you.”

Increasingly, it seems that everyone is lost in the so-called streaming wars that have gone into overdrive under COVID-19. Since last year Wall Street began to sink because subscription numbers were the best, most media companies have suffered stock declines. The message from Wall Street turned out to be: Show us the profits.

At the same time, the drive to stream has accelerated the demise of traditional television and its advertising-based revenue. This led analysts such as MoffettNathanson’s Michael Nathanson to survey the fragmented entertainment company and predict a “frightening” second half for the media companies.

With traditional television increasingly being eroded by broadcasting, many studios have cut costs. Disney and Warner Bros. have both cut back. Discovery and Netflix jobs over the past year and a half. Streaming profitability remained elusive. The Walt Disney Company says Disney+ will be there in the fall of 2024. WarnerBros. Discovery, which has taken the extreme step of canning finished products to reshape its streaming strategy, says Max will start making money this year.

Many are now preparing for a prolonged hiatus that, if implemented in September, would greatly affect the schedule of the fall TV and film festivals (Venice, Telluride, Toronto) that launch the season’s award contenders. Drescher said she “can’t believe” how far apart her union and AMPTP have become.

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Ronnie Regev, who wrote the book Working in Hollywood: How the Studio System Turned Creativity into Labor, thinks this strike could happen similar to the halt in 1960, when actors went on strike for about a month but the writers’ strike persisted.

“I hate to talk about clichés, but history repeats itself,” says Regev. “Like in 1960, there’s a good chance the actors will come to an agreement sooner than the writers. We’re now dealing with very different companies. These are the conglomerates that have other business. I’m not sure if (Amazon chief Jeff) Bezos really cares.” “.

There are also differences in favor of the book. In 1960, the SAG strike (whose president was then a Democrat Ronald Reagan) was strongly opposed by some other unions, including the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represented substandard crew members. This time around, the actors and writers have near-universal support across the guilds. IATSE, in particular, is set to negotiate its new contract next year.

The urgency of this moment cannot be overstated. “Our industry is at a crossroads, and the actions taken now will impact the future of labor relations in Hollywood and beyond,” Matthew de Loeb, president of IATSE, said in a statement. “Their fight today threatens our fight tomorrow.”

Cooler heads can prevail. For his part, Perelman later apologized for being so hot. He pleaded with the studio executive to find “a degree of humanity”.

“It can’t be all about your (expletive) Porsche and your (expletive) stock prices,” Perlman said. “There has to be dignity if we are to hold up the mirror and reflect human experiences, which is what we do as actors and writers.”


Aaron Ranen contributed to this report.


Follow AP Film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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