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Hollywood production drops 40% from peak TV levels

Hollywood production drops 40% from peak TV levels

The U.S. entertainment industry is grappling with a significant production slowdown that shows no signs of abating, according to a recent report by ProdPro.

This research highlights a 40% drop in production within the United States during the second quarter of 2024 when compared to the same period in 2022, which marked the peak of TV filming activity. For almost two years, Hollywood has faced a severe downturn in film and TV shoots, leading to widespread unemployment and mental health challenges among workers.

Globally, production in the same period decreased by about 20% compared to 2022. Although domestic film and TV shoots rose by 30% in the second quarter compared to 2023, it’s important to note that last year’s figures were heavily impacted by a production halt caused by the Hollywood writers’ strike from May to September.

Movies, in particular, have faced tough challenges. While the global number of TV series in production increased by 20% compared to the second quarter of 2023, movie shoots declined by 18% this year.

The ProdPro study attributes the slow recovery in overall production, especially for feature films, to the lingering threat of another potential work stoppage by crew members in 2024. Earlier this year, industry experts speculated that studios were being cautious, holding back on greenlighting projects due to the fear of a third strike.

However, the likelihood of a crew member walkout seems to be diminishing since the industry’s largest below-the-line union secured a contract agreement with minimal conflict. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) reached a tentative deal last month with major Hollywood studios.

Pending approval, this agreement promises wage increases, health and pension benefits, and AI protections for around 50,000 union members. Notably, IATSE has never gone on strike in its 131-year history.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood Basic Crafts, a coalition of unions representing drivers, electricians, location managers, animal trainers, and other below-the-line workers, is still negotiating contracts with companies. All current crew agreements expire on July 31.

Entertainment workers continue to suffer as studios scale back production to recover financial losses incurred during the streaming wars. The golden age of peak TV, which saw 600 scripted series debut in one year, has ended. Movie theaters are still struggling to reach pre-pandemic attendance levels with sparse release schedules, and numerous industry professionals have been jobless since before the strikes.

Additionally, Los Angeles has been losing its edge to other U.S. and international production hubs offering more attractive tax incentives. Nevertheless, it remains the primary driver of domestic film and TV employment, followed by cities like New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco.

ProdPro also examined studios’ spending patterns. In the second quarter of 2024, studios committed $11.3 billion to film and TV productions, a 39% increase from the same period in 2023. However, this figure still lags 20% behind 2022 levels. The data reveals that “returning episodic projects and mid-budget studio films” are receiving the lion’s share of funding.

Films and TV series starting production in the second quarter of 2024 include Amazon MGM’s “Project Hail Mary,” starring Ryan Gosling and filmed in London, and director Ryan Coogler’s “Grilled Cheese,” starring Michael B. Jordan and shot in New Orleans. Other projects include Amazon MGM’s “Mercy,” starring Chris Pratt at Culver Studios in Los Angeles, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” spin-off “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” in Belfast, and Amazon Prime Video’s “Blade Runner 2099,” starring Michelle Yeoh and filmed in Eastern Europe.

Source: ProdPro