Answering the Question: Can the Corporations Afford to Pay Us?

Ok, so I hear this a lot: "But can the corporations really afford to pay you what you're asking for?"

Let's set aside for the moment the issue of what the congloms say in their press releases to us (which is basically "There's no money! Ever! And if there was, we spent it all on other projects that lost money so it's gone! Forever! We're broke! We're having to rent our yachts!") and focus on some hard numbers thoughtfully provided by Jonathan Handel on the Huffington Post yesterday.

He writes an excellent (I think) and even-handed analysis that takes into account the effect pattern bargaining will have in calculating real numbers of what we're asking for, and what it will cost the companies, individually, to pay us.

It comes, by his calculation, to $125 million per conglomerate per year -- if we got every single thing we're asking for.

That, by the way, is less than the $140 million Disney spent to fire Michael Ovitz for 15 months of work.

But the reality is, everyone knows how negotiations work:

Remember too, the WGA doesn't realistically expect to get all the numbers it's asking for; a negotiation is a compromise, not a diktat. Let's assume the parties split everything down the middle. That's about a $60 million increase per major per year. $60 million? It's a small fraction of the typical revenue and profits the conglomerates are achieving. The numbers are complex, but the conclusion is simple: the producers can afford to increase the residual payments, and it's time for them to do so.
Take a look at the post. Read for yourself. What we're asking for is simple, fair, and eminently affordable.

And we're a better bet than some of Disney's previous hires.


Anonymous said...

Today at the Universal Studios main gate picket line ("Jaguar" Territory) we watched a mock up sign installed over that big, blue Universal Studios sign.

The amount the studio is spending on the new sign? ONE MILLION DOLLARS. (Yes, say it with pinkie in corner of mouth, a la Dr. Evil).
Gosh, if they've got ONE MILLION DOLLARS laying around for a new facade on their existing sign, um, I think they can afford to pay the writers their share.
Oh, that and their claims to the shareholders regarding the virtual tidal wave of income they think they'll reap from digital sales.
And also, the two decades of ads we've had to look at in the trades bragging about the massive DVD sales they've collected.
I can't think of one reason they CAN'T afford it.

Unknown said...

$140 million severence package? god knows what he was earning per year then.

obviously this mogul business is the one to be in. work 14 months, have a 5-10 year holiday.

i am a tad confused however, i thought there was no % paid for streaming or itunes downloads. the jeff article certainly says there is, and your blog doesnt refute it. interesting.

Anonymous said...

Whheee! Somebody wrote that sign!

Anonymous said...

There is a secondary question that stems from the first: can the corporations afford NOT to pay you?

Without writers, there is no content to market. No dialogue for actors, no framework for directors, no sets for BTL workers to build, paint, light, wire, or capture on film. Without writers, there is no one to send to wardrobe or makeup and nothing to edit. Greensmen will wither and die. Writers are the foundation that Hollywood is built on.

Stay strong guys--we fans are with you.

Anonymous said...

Considering the crap that has been coming out of the studious lately, it seems to be time for new writers anyway.

Since the ones striking weren't doing their job to begin with, their striking isn't really bothering anyone anyway (hence it is still going on, and the media won't cover it anymore).

The sooner the studio fires everyone and outsources the jobs to India, the better.

People who speak English as a second language could easily write better crap than what has been out for the past decade.

Anonymous said...

Wow, is the tide turning?

United Hollywood said...

lauraholl --

"i am a tad confused however, i thought there was no % paid for streaming or itunes downloads. the jeff article certainly says there is, and your blog doesnt refute it. interesting."

We put the #'s in the FAQ, on the right side of the page -- at the moment, we get paid nothing, 0%, for streaming, and .3% (the dvd formula) for downloads, like from iTunes.


GrrrlRomeo said...

If the studios let the writers, and showrunners for that matter, create what they wanted, I'm certain entertainment would be infinately better...and probably a lot more diverse.

I think it's time to get rid of the network owned studios and the monopoly they have on OUR airwaves.

In the mean time, I hope the internet brings on a wave of more independently produced entertainment rendering the networks obsolete. Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed some of the new web only series (such as "Girltrash!").

If people are willing to watch streams of network produced shows on the net, you can damn well bet they'll watch independently produced shows on the net.

We've already got phone over IP and internet radio "tuners". TV over IP is next. When you can walk into BestBuy and buy a TV with an ethernet card, the networks will crap themselves. Instead of switching to channel 7 or 9, we'll be able to switch it to www.itunes.com or www.insert-new-awesome-tv-series-here.com.

I'll praise the day when I don't have to wait for one of the networks to greenlight something I want to watch. And you guys can divide 100% of the advertising profits amongst your indie producing selves.

Well, I can dream can't I?

Anonymous said...


Well, from a consumer standpoint, the math really helps.... to an extent.... heres what i say.. yes the percentages of sales are low given to the writers, actors, etc.... fine i get that.... the increases will cut into the profits of the studios i get that too, with out profits they cant finance new productions... i get that.... so the math boils down to a bout a 40 cent increase out of the studios coffers per DVD.... whcih is 50%.... great.... now i think some meeting in the middle could be done.... however here is my botom line.... 40 cents * 2 (to make 100%) = 80 cents... lets round that up to a dollar for nice round numbers... i'll be $23 instead of $22 to watch something worth watching.... hers my loonie (canadian dollar)... lets shake hands and make more cool stuff for me to watch

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize that people were seriously asking that question. Are they kidding? Do they have any idea of the huge amount of money - millions - wasted by the entertainment powerhouses/studios in a year? I used to work for one of the studios that is currently being struck, and the amount of money wasted on extremely frivolous things was astounding. I personally saw thousands fly out the door for executives abusing shipping privileges; my department once shipped a heavy antique wrought iron bed abroad to a senior VIP , a personal “favor” that was extremely expensive, on the company dime. I forget what they made us claim that the shipment contained on our invoicing. Digibeta tapes I believe. Excessive traveling and entertaining comes to millions each year. A last minute first class ticket can run over a thousand dollars, and the amount spent on fuel for the private company jet when it drops friends and family off isn’t cheap either. Cars are given away to stars that have hit movies, etc…etc…. Anyone who has seen from the inside how a studio runs, even in one small department, knows that many in power in entertainment are like frat boys and sorority sisters with a key to the candy jar.

El Rebobinador said...

Simply: Yes, they can.

Anonymous said...

Wow, anon 8:51 PM, you sure do like to use the word crap a lot. I take it you don't own a thesaurus? I really like your plan of outsourcing the entertainment business, the last dominant American export, to another country. It sounds swell. How patriotic of you.I am sure that the language and culture barrier will pose no problem as outsourcing basic customer service help lines to India is currently going so well. It should really help out the US economy too! Good thinking!

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to enjoy the trolls' posts. They're kind of like dogs - annoying at times but too stupid to know any better. The 'adopt a troll' drive starts here! Next time you see one, don't waste your time engaging with his logic - just offer him a treat or pat him on the head.

Anonymous said...

... pats Peter on the head.