As the writer’s strike enters its second week, the effects of not having some of most important people on set around are already starting to show: two of the biggest projects currently in production—Marvel’s Blade reboot and the fifth season of Stranger Things—have been put on ice (along with loads more movies and shows I’ll get to in a minute).
What’s the strike about?
Writers are deservedly fed up with loads of stuff, from the number of exploitative short-term contracts being offered in the age of streaming to low pay to poor residuals to the threat of machine-learning.
Posting on the official Twitter account of the Stranger Things writer’s room, the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, wrote:
Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out. #wgastrong
Without its writers or showrunners, production has ground to a halt. Hell yeah. Also downing tools is Marvel’s new Blade movie, which has been shut down and “will restart…production once the strike is over”.
And those two are far from the only shows and films affected. A ton of live TV, especially late night comedy programs, have already gone dark, with The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! all having stopped filming.
And while networks and studios will be fine for a while coasting on material that had already been written and filmed, if the strike continues and that dries up, they’ll be in trouble. And even when the strike is over they’ll still be in trouble, because production backlogs and rescheduling will be an absolute nightmare.
Of course not every project and studio is hitting the pause button. HBO’s Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon will continue filming, just without its writers, while Amazon’s second season of Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power will do likewise. Disney and HBO are among companies who have also ordered writers back to work, with the latter asking them to perform “non-writing” tasks.
The Writers Guild of America, the union calling the strike, figures that improving their member’s contracts would cost Hollywood a collective $430 million per year. There are already estimates this strike could do $2 billion worth of damage to the entertainment economy. That might seem like some easy sums, just pay these people what they’re worth, but these strikes are never about the money, they’re about control.
Solidarity with everyone manning the picket lines, and best of luck with the coming days/weeks/months.