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15 Aug

2023 SAG-AFTRA strike

On the 2nd of May 2023, members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) —- a labour union that represents more than 11500 screenwriters in Hollywood —- went on strike over an ongoing dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). 

The last time WGA went on a strike was in November 2007, and it went on until February 2008. The 2007-08 strike’s main objective was to get increased funding for writers. The ongoing strike’s goals include increased funding for the writers and job security — this comes from the fact that writers do not want to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence(AI) tools — they want them to be used to assist with researching script ideas. The WGA strike has been supported by a significant number of actors and other public figures, Drew Barrymore withdrew from hosting the 2023 MTV Movie and TV Awards. Whilst Sean Paul, Paul Dano, Ethan Hawk, and Kathleen Kennedy expressed their support for the strike during the Cannes Film Festival press conferences. Additionally, Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Niecy Nash, Elizabeth Olsen, and more public figures have shown solidarity with writers with the ongoing strike.  

Since the 14th of July, 2023, the WGA strike coincided with a SAG-AFTRA strike. SAG-AFTRA is an American labour union that represents an approximate number of 160 000 media professionals worldwide. The strike began after SAG-AFTRA announced that the SAG-AFTRA’s theatrical, television and streaming contract with AMPTP had expired and wasn’t renewed because of a lack of agreement between the two parties. The SAG-AFTRA strike’s objectives are similar to those of the WGA strike. These include actors being paid residuals from streaming services, being protected from the unauthorized use of AI or being replaced on set by AI and a new, fair contract. Several actors have shown their support and joined the strike, with stars like Lupita Nyong’o, Hillary Duff, Joey King, and Tyler James Williams showing their solidarity. 

This is the first strike that actors have initiated since the 1980 actors’ strike- caused by disagreements over new labour contracts between unions and companies. This is also the first time since 1960 actors and writers have been on strike simultaneously. 

The ongoing simultaneous strike between WGA and SAG-AFTRA significantly affects the American film and television industry, resulting in many productions being suspended or delayed. Several production premiere dates have reportedly been pushed, including Avatar 3, season 3 of Bel-Air, and the premiere of Avengers: Secret Wars. Other television and film productions that have been delayed/ suspended, pending the ongoing strike, include the filming of the Twisters movies, the movie adaption of the It Ends With Us novel, the production of Bunk’d and more. The strikes have been the most extensive production break in American film and television since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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