WGA Strike Impact: Fears of another telling economic impact due to the writers’ strike are intensifying. The WGA went on strike on 1 May, halting production on many ongoing projects, both film and television. It has left the short-term future of Hollywood up in the air with more fundamental repercussions for the long-term future as well. In the wake of the WGA strike, other similar allied groups represented by different personnel on set are meeting to discuss its aftermath. The previous strike in 2007-08 had an impact of around $2 billion overall. Just in the city of California, the numbers were roughly half of that (per Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation).

In adjusted terms, it is worth almost 50% more than its original value today. When a film production starts on a location, the entirety of the spend can go north of about $250,000 per day of shooting, as per the Motion Picture Association. Even though a lot of that reflects the fees of the cast and other essential personnel, the share of other members on the set is significant. The industry is doing well and caters to other local sectors as well. Anurag Kashyap, most recently, lauded the success of Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan for the reinvigoration of Bollywood in India. His appreciation for the blockbuster was largely due to the impact it will have on other ongoing productions, especially for non-essential personnel.

It is difficult to ascertain what the precise number would be in terms of impact, but according to the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank, the loss this time “could be a lot more.” While the full-blown impact will only be settled after the strike is over, insiders believe that the longevity of the strike itself is the bigger issue. It is poised to last longer than the previous strike – which went on for 105 days – and that would mean disaster for an already suffering Hollywood industry. The past few months, specifically after the pandemic shutdown, have been disappointing for big movie franchises like Marvel and DC.

The bloated budgets of films like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Shazam: Fury of Gods have meant that the studios have suffered huge losses. Despite doing decent numbers, such endeavors have been heavily marketed, and associated costs of the spending have increased disproportionally to the box office numbers. Neither of the two factions, AMPTP or the WGA, is willing to cede ground on their stance. If the strike keeps up, it threatens roughly $81 billion in direct wages from 800,000 jobs in the film and TV industry. But even beyond Hollywood, the WGA strike also indirectly impacts the lives of almost 20,000 workers in different allied sectors.

The strike by the Writers Guild of America has caused a significant impact on the job market in Los Angeles, particularly those directly linked to filming. In the months leading up to the strike, studios were preparing for the possibility of a work stoppage, causing a significant drop in shooting days. This is in contrast to past practices where studios would increase production leading up to a potential strike in order to have a backlog of content. The ripple effects on an already depleted American economy will be felt for long after the strike is over. One thing is for sure this time. “It’s not comparable to 2007,” says a top-tier showrunner, nodding to the last strike kickoff. “2007 is going to look quaint.”

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