“‘It’s an unfortunate situation. … We have to get back to work.’”
That was Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Financial Officer Gunnar Wiedenfels talking about the ongoing strikes between Hollywood film studios and the writers and actors unions. He was speaking at a Bank of America conference this week.
Wiedenfels said that the entertainment industry is “really shut down” and that his company
is working toward a solution in which “everybody feels they are respected and rewarded fairly.”
Wiedenfels’ comments come a few weeks after Warner Bros. Discovery reported its quarterly earnings and admitted the strikes have already cost it between $300 million and $500 million.
“While [Warner Bros. Discovery] is hopeful that these strikes will be resolved soon, it cannot predict when the strikes will ultimately end,” the company said on its earnings call. “With both guilds still on strike today, the company now assumes the financial impact to [Warner Bros. Discovery] of these strikes will persist through the end of 2023.”
Along with other studios, Warner Bros. Discovery is part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the organization that is locked in a dispute with the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
The WGA and SAG-AFTRA are striking over issues surrounding artificial intelligence, residual payments and length of employment agreements, among other concerns. Some analysts have estimated that the work stoppage has cost the economy of California $5 billion in total.
Other studios that are part of AMPTP include Disney
A Netflix executive has also weighed in on the ongoing Hollywood strikes.
“I think really kind of cutting through it, the main thing [is] there’s a lot of folks [writers and actors] out of work and the business isn’t moving forward,” Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann said at the same Bank of America conference in New York where Wiedenfels made his comments. “And so it’s terrible for all those folks that are not working, and it’s not good for the business. So that’s what we’re most focused on.”
Members of the AMPTP recently agreed to resume negotiations next week with the WGA.
“Every member company of the AMPTP is committed and eager to reach a fair deal, and to working together with the WGA to end the strike,” the AMPTP said in a release on Thursday evening.
There are no talks yet planned to settle the actors’ strike.
About 87% of SAG-AFTRA members make less than $26,000 a year from their acting jobs, according to members, making them ineligible for healthcare coverage through the union. The two unions are striking at the same time for the first time since 1960.
The work stoppage has already pushed back release dates of high-profile films including “Deadpool 3,” “Dune: Part Two,” and “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part Two.”