Potential Writers Strike Puts 'Transformers 2' on Hold

by Paul William Tenny

There have been stories going around the industry over the past couple of months that film and television production has accelerated to a pace that hasn't been seen in almost ten years. Spec script sales are up, more films are being shot now than in a long time, and television series are having their new season production dates bumped up, all in an effort to get as much material shot before mid-2008 as possible. Although the Writers Guild of America is already negotiating a new contract with the studios, nobody expects anything to be signed until the Screen Writers Guild contract comes up next year, giving the two guilds the opportunity to strike in unison, effectively shutting down Hollywood.
Don Murphy, one of the producers on Transformers, posted on a message board saying that there simply isn't enough time to start production on the sequel, and to get it finished by the time frame a potential strike is thought to likely.

This isn't exactly surprising and yet this is a result of the movie studios being screwed over by their own greed. The strike that is probably coming next year will be focused almost entirely over a single issue: fair pay (residuals) for digital media. In other words, rather than being paid at the VHS-rate for TV shows that are viewed on the Internet, writers want better compensation - and rightly so, writers only get something like 5 cents per DVD sold at the current rates which haven't been adjusted since before DVDs were even invented.

Most studios and networks are trying to avoid paying writers at all, for webisodes.

If and when that strike comes, please don't blame the writers. Blame the studios who made an industry-record $4.3 billion dollars this summer, who are refusing to pay writers more than 5 cents per DVD sold, and wanting to pay them even less for digital downloads.


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