The main deal points of a new three-year contract between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has led to significant raises for writers’ work, a 26% increase to residuals, minimum staffing requirements and guaranteed protections on artificial intelligence, according to a WGA release on Tuesday.
The WGA released a summary of the contract along with a full text and a comparison between what was first proposed by both the union and the AMPTP, as well as what made it into the final deal. The total value is estimated by the guild to stand at $233 million, up from the $86 million deal that the AMPTP initially offered.
Basic wage increases for writers will be on the same annual rate as agreed upon by the studios and the Directors Guild of America: a 5% increase in the first year, 4% increase in the second, and 3.5% increase in the third.
On the issue of protection against artificial intelligence, a major talking point among members on the picket lines, the two sides agreed to the following key points:
Studios aren’t allowed to require writers to use AI as a tool in their writing and must disclose if they give any AI-generated material to writers during the process.
The WGA also secured key contract language regarding use of its members work in data sets to train AI programs, with the contract dictating that “the WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by MBA or other law.”
The guild also negotiated key gains for writer compensation for streaming films and TV shows, including a bonus structure for titles that do exceptionally well on their streaming services:
Starting in 2024, streaming titles with budgets of more than $30 million that are viewed by 20% or more of the service’s domestic subscribers in the first 90 days of release get a bonus equal to 50% of the fixed domestic and foreign residual.
Views will be calculated as hours streamed domestically of the season or film divided by runtime. For example, projects written under the new agreement on the largest streaming platforms would receive a bonus of $9,031 for a half-hour episode, $16,415 for a single-hour episode, or $40,500 for a streaming feature.
The WGA will also receive confidential viewership data on streaming shows based on hours viewed, though only aggregate data can be publicly shared.
Other key gains on streaming compensation include the following:
For feature-length streaming projects with a budget at or above $30 million, the minimal initial compensation for a story or teleplay will be $100,000, an 18% increase from the current rate, and a 26% increase from the residual base.
Streaming residuals will be based on the streaming platform’s number of foreign subscribers for globally available services. That will amount to a 76% increase (including a 2.5% base increase) to the foreign residual for the services with the largest global subscriber bases over three years. This formula is the same as the foreign residual structure negotiated by the Directors Guild of America this past summer.
When combined with the foreign residual improvements, this should result in a three-year residual of $216,000 for projects on the largest streaming platforms. That would represent a 49% increase from the $144,993 under the 2020 mutual bargaining agreement.
On the issue of minimum staffing requirements, the contract includes:
A requirement for studios to hire three writers for development and at least three writer-producers (including a showrunner) for a guaranteed 10 weeks of work.
After the series is greenlit, the studios agree to hire writers according to the number of episodes ordered: six or fewer episodes, three writers and three writer-producers; seven to 12 episodes, five writers and three writer-producers; and 13-plus episodes, six writers and three writer-producers for at least 20 weeks or the duration of the post-greenlight writers’ room — whichever is shorter.
During production, there will be a minimum of the showrunner and two writer-producers employed for 20 weeks or the duration of the production, whichever is shorter.
The contract next moves to the members for a vote to ratify. Meetings will be held this week so that current members could hear from the Negotiating Committee, Council and Board while having the opportunity to ask questions about the agreement prior to the ratification vote.
Read the WGA’s full summary right here.
Scott Mendelson and Jethro Nededog contributed to this story.
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