Report: Strike Cost $2.5 Billion
Lesson learned from the recent writers’ strike: The pen is costlier than the sword.
A report released Wednesday by Jack Kyser, the chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., has revealed that the three-month walkout by film and TV writers took a heavier toll on Tinseltown’s bottom line than predicted√≥$2.5 billion in lost show business.
The 71-page study, dubbed the Economic Forecast Report, concluded that the writers’ strike, which started Nov. 5 and ended last week, resulted in millions of dollars in lost wages for the cast and crews of shuttered film and television productions.
The strike’s impact alone on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual Golden Globes Award ceremony cost the Industry upwards of $60 million, including lost advertising dollars and missed promotional opportunities by studios looking to boost their prestige pictures ahead of this Sunday’s Oscars.
Despite solid gains at the domestic and global box office in 2007, as well as last week’s deal in which scribes won concessions for royalties from content streamed over the Internet, Kyser and his analysts expressed concern that the devastating economic effect of the protracted strike could lead the Screen Actors Guild to dig in its heels when its own contract is up on June 30.
It’s widely expected that the actors will follow the template forged by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America in their new accords with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
However, Kyser’s report said another strike wasn’t out of the question, as SAG leaders are still “talking tough” about their negotiations.
Given how the work stoppage has thrown the scripted TV season for next fall into chaos, leaving many of its members scrounging for work, the union may hold out for a better revenue-sharing deal than the ones obtained separately by writers and directors.
The guild may seek to make up the shortfall in DVD sales, per the report. Sales remain flat this year, after suffering a steep 3.4 percent drop last year to $16 billion.
But with stars like Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro leading the charge, several key members of the Screen Actors Guild have urged the union to initiate early talks with the alliance to head off the possibility of another walkout.
While another strike would be grim news, the economic forecast for Los Angeles County for 2008 already predicts continued job losses in the manufacturing, information service and construction sectors due to the fallout from the strike.