Periodically, we want to connect with you on timely legal topics and how they may impact your daily life. These topics come from a wide range of subjects and are opportunities to start a conversation between you and Mattingly Ford. Sometimes, they will connect directly with recent legal developments and others will relate to law-related developments on a broader scale. This is the first in this new series, addressing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the entertainment industry.
The pandemic has created extraordinary demand for entertainment. Viewers around the world are hungry for new movies and television shows to enjoy as an escape from grim reality. In 2020, this demand was amplified by widespread entertainment delays caused by lockdowns that prevented production. Some films, such as the long-anticipated Top Gun sequel still haven’t premiered. Now that restrictions have lessened, content is flowing more freely again. However, it isn’t all smooth sailing. A potential strike from the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) is brewing. If this strike happens, entertainment production will likely grind to a halt once more.
The union recently voted to authorize a strike (a first step to actually calling a strike). Support for the strike is unprecedented. 52,000 members of the union, more than 90 percent of the membership, voted to authorize the strike. Furthermore, the union, which formed 128 years ago, has never actually gone on strike. This widespread, unprecedented support should worry Hollywood executives. The union is primarily focused on obtaining better hours and rest procedures. Currently, the parties are back at the bargaining table, but no significant progress has been made.
If a strike were to happen, entertainment projects would be widely stalled. Most movie and television productions would stop. The strike would also impact content being produced by Netflix and other streaming services. However, some projects would escape disruption. A work stoppage would not influence production of commercials, projects costing less than $15 million and content from premium services such as HBO and Starz.
1 Gene Maddaus, IATSE Negotiations Resume With New Offer From Studios, Variety (Oct. 5, 2021), https://variety.com/2021/film/news/iatse-strike-negotiations-new-offer-1235081448/.
4 Katie Kilkenny & Carolyn Giardina, What Film/TV Projects Would (and Wouldn’t) Be Impacted by an IATSE Strike, The Hollywood Reporter (Oct. 5, 2021), https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/what-film-tv-projects-would-and-wouldnt-be-impacted-by-an-iatse-strike-1235022019/.