Any quick end to the Hollywood writers strike now rests with the Directors Guild of America, which is conducting talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The hope is that the DGA can negotiate a digital deal acceptable to the striking writers, and they accept the same deal and come back to work.
But in an LA Times op-ed, former WGA attorney Jonathan Handel says that’s not going to happen. That’s because the directors and writers get paid in different ways, and what’s important to writers — getting paid each time their stuff is streamed or downloaded — isn’t crucial to the directors. Top directors get a cut of a movie’s revenue, and for many years to come, most of that revenue is going to come from theatre tickets and DVD sales. And 40% of guild members never get residuals at all.
So the directors don’t care if the studios pay writers $139 for a year of online streaming rights for a sitcom (the studios’ offer) or if the writers get 10x that (the writers’ demand). Handel and the rest of Hollywood are holding a vague hope that the directors will somehow reorder their priorities and agree to create a template that not only the writers like but the actors guild is pleased with as well, and avert further strife. That’s a great ending. But we think this one’s going to end looking more like the last reel of “Apocalypse Now”.
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