Hollywood faced a cliffhanger moment on Monday as talks to avert a potentially catastrophic strike by thousands of TV and movie writers remained unresolved just hours before a crunch deadline.
Major studios and networks including Disney and Netflix are locked in talks with the powerful Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has threatened to order a walkout just after midnight Tuesday unless a new deal is agreed.
If a strike takes place, late-night shows could immediately grind to a halt, and television series and movies scheduled for release later this year and beyond could face major delays.
The last time talks failed, in 2007, Hollywood writers laid down their pens and keyboards for 100 days, costing the Los Angeles entertainment industry around $2 billion.
This time, the two sides are clashing as writers demand higher pay and a greater share of profits from the boom in streaming, while studios say they must cut costs due to economic pressures.
“I think everybody feels like there’s going to be a strike,” said one Los Angeles-based TV writer, who asked not to be identified.
“This is a deal that’s going to determine how we are financially compensated by streamers,” not just now but well into the future.
Many of the issues are familiar to contract talks in industries around the world.
Writers say it is becoming impossible to earn a living, as salaries have flatlined or declined after inflation, even as employers reap profits and fatten executives’ paychecks.