On July 11 2023 (two months into a Writers Guild of America strike), Deadline quoted a studio executive as saying that the endgame for Hollywood executives “is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses”:
The Deadline Article
On the evening of July 11 2023, Deadline published an article with the headline, “Hollywood Studios’ WGA Strike Endgame Is To Let Writers Go Broke Before Resuming Talks In Fall,” quoting a “top-tier producer” as saying the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers intended to intentionally delay a resolution in order to inflict the maximum amount of pain on striking writers:
With the scribes’ [WGA] strike now finishing its 71st day [on July 11 2023] and the actors’ union just 30 hours from a possible labor action of its own, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers [AMPTP] are planning to dig in hard this fall of  before even entertaining the idea of more talks with the WGA, I’ve learned. “Not Halloween precisely, but late October , for sure, is the intention,” says a top-tier producer close to the Carol Lombardini-run AMPTP.
While some dismiss this as just “cynical strike talk,” studio and streamer sources around town confirm the strategy. They also confirm that the plan to grind down the guild has long been in the works for a labor cycle that all sides agree is a game-changer one way or another for Hollywood.
Deadline cited “studio and streamer sources around town” as having confirmed the strategy to financially devastate their writers. Deadline alluded to efforts to “grind down” Writers Guild of America members by jeopardizing their access to food and shelter, and the viral quote appeared in a section describing “positive feedback from Wall Street” toward the “studios and streamers”:
Receiving positive feedback from Wall Street since the WGA went on strike May 2 , Warner Bros Discovery, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Paramount and others have become determined to “break the WGA,” as one studio exec blatantly put it.
To do so, the studios and the AMPTP believe that by October  most writers will be running out of money after five months on the picket lines and no work.
“The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Acknowledging the cold-as-ice approach, several other sources reiterated the statement. One insider called it “a cruel but necessary evil.”
The studios and streamers’ next think financially strapped writers would go to WGA leadership and demand they restart talks before what could be a very cold Christmas [in 2023]. In that context, the studios and streamers feel they would be in a position to dictate most of the terms of any possible deal.
Social Media Discourse About the Deadline Article
On the basis of that excerpt, the entertainment trade publication’s article spread quickly, particularly on Twitter.
Filmmaker Joe Russo (@joerussotweets) published one of the most prominent tweets about the Deadline article, one of several speculating that the remarks served only to galvanize support for the strike — or that the purported threat was not “new news”:
On the afternoon of July 12 2023, Deadline tweeted about an update to viral article, including a statement attributed to an AMPTP spokesperson. However, the commentary was bookended with skeptical observations about the AMPTP’s actions during the strike:
Publicly, the AMPTP are refuting the so-called October  surprise.
“These anonymous people are not speaking on behalf of the AMPTP or member companies, who are committed to reaching a deal and getting our industry back to work,” a spokesperson for the organization says.
Still, since the WGA called its first strike in 15 years in early May , there have been no discussions between the AMPTP and the guild despite persistent public guild offers to meet. Sources close to the AMPTP insist there has been no direct offer from the WGA leadership to resume talks.
Threaded reply tweets were equally distrustful, reiterating assertions that the statement was intentionally fed to reporters by executives, who were then rattled enough to walk back their threats after a backlash:
“We thought we’d scare the writers, we miscalculated, their resolve is now at DEFCON 1 and we’re afraid every restaurant in LA will do something to our food.”
“Deadline go head and drop the names. They admitted they never intended to negotiate with us and therefore can be hit with unfair labor practices. They are the ones costing the state 30 mil a day and actively vying for an increase in homelessness. They dont deserve protection[.]”
“Hahahaha. Look at them run now that they’ve realized how mad they just made us. Cowards. Have the guts to stand behind the statements you paid to have planted in the trades.”
“Lol. Their planted stories didn’t exactly go over like they thought, huh?”
“Whoopsie! Time for some damage control after one of our executives said something ghoulish and inhumane again!”
Deadline’s article concluded by stating that the “WGA did not respond to request for comment”; the article was updated with the AMPTP statement on July 12 2023. However, on the evening of July 11 2023, Writers Guild of America West (@WGAWest) tweeted a one-word response:
A July 11 2023 Deadline article spread virally, quoting an unnamed studio executive as saying their “endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses” during a drawn out strike, “a cruel but necessary evil.” Backlash swiftly followed, energizing striking writers and drawing support from the AFL-CIO. A spokesperson for the AMPTP attempted to disavow the comments in an update to the viral article.
Update, September 27 2023
After five months, the Writers Guild of America’s strike officially came to an end on September 27 2023.
On that date, NPR’s “Hollywood writers return to work, after a nearly five month strike” reported that the contract was pending ratification — and that writing work could resume:
The 148-day Hollywood writers strike is finally over, thanks to a new three-year deal the Writers Guild of America made with major Hollywood studios. Film and TV writers in the union still have to ratify the contract, but they’re allowed to get back to work.
On September 26 2023, CNN.com covered the pending agreeement, and quoted a statement by the WGA. In it, the WGA retained the right to “make a final determination on contract approval” before it was ratified:
“The WGAW Board and WGAE Council also voted to lift the restraining order and end the strike as of 12:01 am PT/3:01 am ET on Wednesday, September 27th . This allows writers to return to work during the ratification process, but does not affect the membership’s right to make a final determination on contract approval,” the WGA wrote online.
CNN also provided details with respect to the agreed upon contract terms, slated to be in effect through May 2026. They included percentage increases for compensation and health insurance, as well as increased pay for “big streaming projects” — one of the primary concerns voiced by writers during the strike:
Most writers’ minimum pay will increase 5% immediately, another 4% in May 2024 and then another 3.5% in May 2025. Health fund contributions will increase by a half percentage point to 12% of companies’ reportable earnings. And writers working on the same script will no longer need to split pension and health contributions.
For big streaming projects, namely feature-length productions with a budget of at least $30 million, minimum writer compensation for a story and teleplay will increase 18% to $100,000. Residual pay minimums for big-budget streaming productions will increase by more than a quarter. And other residuals for video on-demand services will yield a 50% bonus to writers when the shows are watched by a fifth of domestic subscribers in the first three months of a project’s run. That means writers could take home more than $9,000 for a half-hour eposide, and more than $16,000 for a one-hour episode for big-budget productions on the top services.
EW.com analyzed the contract for a September 26 2023 article, addressing separate issues raised by writers and the WGA during the strike. Among them were provisions pertaining to Artificial Intelligence (AI), and hard and fast rules about streaming and rate transparency:
Artificial intelligence was one of the most heavily-scrutinized issues on the bargaining table, and the WGA explains how the new contract protects writers from A.I. Under the new contract, A.I. cannot “be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights.” Additionally, companies must inform writers if material has been generated by A.I., and if a company uses a writer’s material to train A.I. models, the WGA is allowed to deem that training as unlawful. Writers also cannot be forced by their employers to use A.I.
Another important issue on the table was streaming residuals, which had previously been notoriously difficult to come by for writers. Streaming services now must share statistics about streaming data with the WGA, and writers will be compensated with significant residual bonuses for shows and movies that are viewed by 20 percent of a streaming service’s subscribers within 90 days.
Financial news outlet CNBC noted that “WGA contract could act as a template for SAG-AFTRA to draft its own deal with Hollywood studios,” referencing a tandem strike involving the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. According to the New York Times, late night talk shows were likely to return the week of September 30 2023, after a lengthy hiatus during the strike.