After three days of robust talks, the Writers Guild and the AMPTP are heading into the weekend without a deal, just as hopes were at their highest that an end to the writers strike could finally be in sight.
IndieWire has learned that talks have ended for the day late on Friday, with “good progress” made, but the expectation is there’s still much to complete. It’s unclear at present when negotiations will continue.
The WGA and AMPTP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But the mood around town is noticeably more optimistic about progress being made than even a week ago. Back then, the two sides looked like they were at a crossroads; both sides felt like the other owed them a response. Now, on the 144th day of the writers strike, there’s still no tentative agreement, but the two sides have shared joint statements about negotiation updates, meetings are running long, and it at least feels like things are in the final stretch.
When the WGA last week requested a meeting with the AMPTP to resume formal conversations, the media did not anticipate that CEOs Bob Iger, Donna Langley, David Zaslav, and Ted Sarandos would be there to join them in the room. Sources have confirmed to IndieWire that the studio chiefs have been present through all three days of talks. They even stayed late on Thursday until around 7:30 p.m. PT when excitement, speculation, and rumors around town were at their highest that a late night deal could be finalized.
That didn’t happen, and the WGA later told members to continue to be out on the picket lines in full force on Friday. And they delivered, with bigger crowds and positive energy across town.
“Your Negotiating Committee appreciates all the messages of solidarity and support we have received the last few days, and ask as many of you as possible to come out to the picket lines tomorrow,” the negotiating committee wrote to members late Thursday.
A report in Variety said that the studios did make an offer that would provide a success-based residual and would offer more data transparency to creators, but specific wording on streaming residuals were among the hold ups in talks.
Part of the anticipation that a deal could get done was fueled by a CNBC report that said a deal would happen on Thursday, with a warning that if it didn’t happen then, the strike could last through the winter. A similar Fox Business report followed, though that one got mocked when the writer accidentally tagged the parody Carol Lombardini account on Twitter.
The language in the CNBC report, several writers IndieWire spoke with said, sounded like a blatant tactic to put pressure on the WGA, like Lucy again pulling the proverbial football away from Charlie Brown. Other sources also felt the enthusiasm for a deal was overstated, with one saying early Thursday they would’ve been surprised if a deal got done that soon, while others said the hype was “over skis” or was just a rumor.
There’s also the factor that the WGA wants a full contract with details ironed out before anything is formally announced, rather than merely announce tentative deal terms. The idea is to ensure there are no loopholes of the kind the guild previously said were not “good enough.“
Additional reporting by Tony Maglio.