If strike talks fall apart, legacy studios should leave AMPTP

(Courtesy of the WGA)

Last night, Reel 360 News reported that the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) were going to resume talks next week. It has been a grueling five months of picketing for writers and two months for actors.

Real talk, it gets boiling around Warner Bros. by 11 a.m. Hydrate. Hydrate for real.

If we reach October 3rd without a deal, this will be the longest strike ever in Guild history. After negotiations fell apart last month, it’s evident that the traditional way of doing things is no longer sufficient. The WGA in a statement, even suggested they would be willing to negotiate with each studio separately.

Here’s an idea for the legacy studios if you can’t strike a deal, negotiate with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA on your own.

Do it for the writers. Do it for the actors. Do it for yourselves.

In the words of NIKE, “Just do it.”

The truth is legacy studios such as Warner Bros., Paramount, Disney, Sony and Universal are at a crossroads, facing challenges and opportunities that demand a reevaluation of their business models.

The rise of streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple has disrupted the industry in profound ways. These tech giants have leveraged their resources and global reach to redefine how we consume stories (I refuse to say content).

Their agility and willingness to adapt to changing consumer preferences have given them a substantial advantage over the legacy studios.

One key difference between legacy studios and streaming platforms is their approach to content creation and distribution. Legacy studios are deeply entrenched in the theatrical distribution model, relying heavily on box office revenue and established release windows.

By contrast, streaming platforms prioritize direct-to-consumer content delivery, catering to viewers who prefer on-demand, personalized experiences.

Can anyone say, “Oil and Water?”


This fundamental difference in approach has become increasingly pronounced, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. While legacy studios such as Warner Bros. and Marvel/Disney grappled with disrupted release schedules and dwindling theater audiences, streaming platforms thrived. They capitalized on the opportunity to provide fresh content stories directly to viewers at home, a strategy that paid off handsomely.

It’s time for legacy studios to recognize that their business models are diverging from those of streaming platforms. Attempting to straddle both worlds is leading to diminished returns and missed opportunities. Instead, they should consider separating their traditional theatrical divisions from their streaming counterparts.

So secede, Sony. Secede, Universal. Now, here’s where you argue back and say they all have streaming services, too. Peacock ain’t Netflix. Max (stupid name still) is nowhere near Amazon or Disney+.

By negotiating on their own, each studio can focus on its unique strengths and goals. The traditional studio division could continue producing tentpole theatrical releases, while the streaming division could invest in original content tailored for on-demand viewing. This approach would enable legacy studios to compete more effectively with streaming giants.

Moreover, separating these divisions could facilitate partnerships and collaborations with streaming platforms. Rather than perceiving each other as competitors, they could work together to co-produce content and expand their reach. Such collaborations have already shown promise in the industry and could lead to mutually beneficial outcomes.

The legacy studios possess invaluable intellectual property, iconic franchises, and vast creative talent. These assets should not be squandered by clinging to outdated models. Embracing change and adapting to the evolving media landscape is essential for their continued success.

By separating their traditional and streaming divisions, legacy studios can position themselves to thrive in the digital age while preserving the cinematic experience for those who cherish it. It’s a strategic move that recognizes consumers’ evolving needs and technology’s transformative power.

In the end, the goal is not to abandon tradition but to embrace innovation. Legacy studios have the opportunity to redefine themselves, engage with a new generation of viewers, and continue producing timeless content. To do so, they must be willing to take bold steps and consider separation as a path toward sustained relevance and success in an ever-changing industry.

If it all works out during next week’s negotiations, bravo! I’m rooting for you. But if it doesn’t…

Divorce from the AMPTP. Do it. You’re welcome.

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Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at colin@reel360.com or follow him on X at @colinthewriter1