Former Paramount and 20th Century Fox CEO Barry Diller delivered a grim prediction for Hollywood on Sunday, warning that the industry is facing an “absolute collapse” if the Writers’ and Screen Actors Guild joint strike extends into the fall.
Diller emphasized the potential consequences of the ongoing strikes, stating that if they are not resolved until Christmas or later, there will be a severe shortage of programs for viewers to watch. This, in turn, will lead to canceled subscriptions and reduced revenue for movie and television companies. By the time the strikes are settled, there may not be enough funds to restart production.
The strikes, which began in May, have been led by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The WGA is demanding a guaranteed number of writers per room, increased pay, and regulated use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the writing process. SAG-AFTRA is seeking increased minimum pay rates, increased streaming residuals, and guarantees from studios and production companies regarding the use of AI.
Diller described the current situation as a “perfect storm,” citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of streaming services, and the resulting financial losses for companies in the industry. He expressed concern about the lack of trust between the parties involved and the existential issues surrounding the use of AI in entertainment.
In an effort to bridge the gap between top executives and highly paid actors, Diller proposed a 25% pay cut for both groups as a good faith measure. He also suggested implementing a settlement deadline of September 1 to prevent further damage to the industry.
Diller dismissed concerns about AI replacing writers and actors, stating that the technology will assist rather than replace them. He argued that the focus should be on narrowing the pay disparity between top earners and those lower down the industry ladder.
The ongoing strikes have already had a significant impact on the production of films and television series, with estimated losses exceeding $3 billion. Diller’s warning serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences if the strikes continue without resolution.