The public disclosure of the Aug. 11 proposal was an unusual step and suggested an attempt to go around union leadership and appeal to rank-and-file members.
In an apparent attempt to break a labor stalemate that has helped bring nearly all of Hollywood production to a standstill, the major entertainment studios took the unusual step on Tuesday night of publicly releasing details of their most recent proposal to the union that represents 11,500 striking television and movie writers.
The studios are confronting significant decisions about whether to push the release of big-budget films like “Dune: Part Two” into the next year, and whether the network television lineup for the 2023-2024 season can be salvaged or reduced to reality shows and reruns.
Shortly before the public release of the proposal, several chief executives at the major Hollywood companies, including David Zaslav, who leads Warner Bros. Discovery, and Robert A. Iger, the Disney kingpin, met with officials at the Writers Guild of America, the writers’ union, to discuss the latest proposal, according to a statement by the union’s negotiating committee.
By releasing the proposal, the companies are essentially going around the guild’s negotiating committee and appealing to rank-and-file members — betting that their proposal will look good enough for members to pressure their leaders to make a deal.
The writers’ union said that the studios’ offer “failed to sufficiently protect writers from the existential threats that caused us to strike in the first place.” The union described the public release of the companies’ proposal as a “bet that we will turn on each other.”
The writers have been on strike for 113 days. The studios and writers resumed negotiations on Aug. 11 for the first time since early May. Since then, there has been optimism within the entertainment industry that the labor disputes might be on a path to resolution.
But the public disclosure of the proposal by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of the studios, suggests that negotiations may have again reached an impasse. The studios and writers’ union had generally agreed to adhere to a media blackout while at the bargaining table, and the studio alliance has only occasionally released public statements before the guild.
“We have come to the table with an offer that meets the priority concerns the writers have expressed,” Carol Lombardini, the lead negotiator for the alliance, said in a statement that accompanied the details of the latest proposal. “We are deeply committed to ending the strike and are hopeful that the Writers Guild of America will work toward the same resolution.”
Hollywood has been effectively shut down since tens of thousands of Hollywood actors joined striking screenwriters on picket lines on July 14. Both the writers and actors have called this moment “existential,” arguing that the streaming era has deteriorated their working conditions as well as their compensation levels.
The studios said that their latest proposal offered the “highest wage increase” to writers in more than three decades, as well as an increase in residuals (a type of royalty) that has been a major point of contention. The studios also said that they had offered “landmark protections” against artificial intelligence, and that they vowed to offer some degree of streaming viewership data to the guild, information which had previously been held under lock and key.
In the statement, the studios said that they were “committed to reaching an equitable agreement to return the industry to what it does best: creating the TV shows and movies that inspire and entertain audiences worldwide.”