Though their contract isn't set to expire until October 31 of 2007, the WGA (Writers Guild of America) are downloading the word 'strike' onto their iPods and shoving it into the face of anyone who will listen, most notably the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. While studios would like negotiations to begin between the two parties this January, the WGA doesn't like that idea and would rather postpone talks till September, leaving only two months before the end of the world as we know it. Wait, writers aren't that important, right? I mean, what's the worst that can happen? It's not like the entire industry will fumble about before being brought to its knees. Right?
This stalling technique is nothing new for the WGA; their current contract wasn't finalized until five months after the previous one expired -- and, with online streaming and movie downloading bombarding the industry, serving as yet another medium for which studios can use to screw writers, expect this one to go right down to the wire ... as per usual. What does this mean for film? Well, folks will begin stockpiling scripts as if they were canned food and production will kick into high gear -- followed by a "de facto strike" this summer, which will halt production on films unable to wrap things up by October 31.
Why won't the WGA just succumb and begin negotiations early to avoid all of these complications? Sure, it seems logical, but then they don't have the threat of a strike to throw on the bargaining table. Besides, the extra time will allow them to calculate just how many pennies they should expect to get their writers for this whole downloading/streaming stuff. In the end, we're the only ones who will suffer -- look for this battle to play itself out in the trades over the course of the next year. Hooray, we now have something besides Spider-Man 3 to look forward to!