Total earnings for Writers Guild of America West members grew four percent in 2012 and topped $1 billion for the first time, the union reported Monday. While TV writers took in more money, earning for film writing declined for the third straight year.
Television writers' earnings grew a healthy 10.1 percent over a strong 2011, reaching $667.2 million, while the number of those employed rose 2.3 percent to 3,508.
The TV gains offset dips in film writing, where employment and earnings declined significantly for the third year in a row in 2012. Employment was down 6.7% to 1,537 writers, and earnings down 6.1% to $343 million.
The last three years have resulted in 16.7 percent fewer writers doing movies and earning 21 percent less in the aggregate. With late reports expected, this decline is likely slower than in the prior two years, but the trend has not yet reversed course.
Residuals collected by the WGA in 2012 grew to an all-time high of $348.67 million, 5.7% up on 2011, marking the third year receipts exceeded $300 million. Residuals increased 5.9% in television and 5.3% in screen, reversing the decline in screen last year.
Television has been the stronger area for several years, topping $200 million this year for the first time. The reuse of programs in new media provided a bright spot, where rental services such as Netflix and Hulu drove significant growth from $4.21 million in 2011 to $11.26 million in 2012. Foreign residuals did not equal the level of 2011, but remained high at $39.26 million for 2012.