It’s official. The Writers Guild of America has gone on strike, effectively shutting down production on upcoming Hollywood TV and movie properties until a new agreement can be reached.
The reasons that writers of the WGA have elected to collectively organize and picket are numerous. And somewhat dishearteningly, the guild is advocating for some of the same changes it sought during the 2007-2008 WGA strike. Back then, internet streaming was in its infancy and was referred to only as “new media” throughout the duration of the strike. The work stoppage came to a close after three months and eight days, but the rapid development of technology has led to a host of new issues that the WGA once again seeks to reconcile. You can find the entirety of their proposal to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television (AMPTP) below.
The most prominent sticking points once again revolve around streaming – this time making sure that writers who work on streaming properties are appropriately compensated for their time, expertise, and the product’s value to its studio. Additionally, TV writers seek the abolishment of “mini rooms,” which frequently replace traditional writers rooms and have slowly been turning the profession into a gig economy. And then there’s the A.I. of it all. Writers would like assurances that studios won’t replace them with artificial intelligence scabs.
Suffice it to say, this is a complex professional disagreement that seems likely to last as long as the infamous 2007-2008 work stoppage, if not longer. As a collection of writers ourselves, Den of Geek would like to make clear that we support the WGA in their very reasonable requests. As your friendly neighborhood pop culture entertainment website, we’d also like to walk you through some of the changes that a Hollywood work stoppage could mean for you, the consumer.
Here are the TV shows and movies that have already been affected by the strike and upcoming TV shows and movies that are likely to be affected as well.
Talk and Variety Shows
Just as was the case with the 2007-2008 Writers Strike, late night talk shows were the first to be affected by the 2023 work stoppage. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Daily Show will all not air new episodes for the foreseeable future. Daily talk shows require up-to-the-minute-of-filming contributions from their writers and going to air without the aid of them is just not realistic.
Back in 2007, then Late Night host Conan O’Brien eventually started recording episodes again to support his non-writing staff but did not cross the picket line by writing new content for his show. This led to surreal moments like O’Brien spinning his wedding ring on an NBC show watched by hundreds of thousands of people.
Also shut down for the time being is Saturday Night Live. Former cast member Pete Davidson was set to return to host the show on Saturday, May 6, but will no longer be doing so. There is one “comedy” talk show still producing episodes in the form of Fox News Gutfeld! But that’s only because Greg Gutfeld is a partisan hack and lowly scab with no discernible talent.
After late night talk shows, daytime soap operas are the next TV items on the strike chopping block. Popular soap operas like Days of Our Lives and General Hospital are still airing new episode for the time being but that should all stop within the next few weeks or so.
Stranger Things Season 5
Now here’s a big one. The creators, head writers, and show runners of Netflix’s global phenomenon Stranger Things have revealed that they won’t be starting production on the show’s fifth and final season without a new WGA deal in place.
Like many other showrunners, the Duffer Brothers operate in a gray area between producers and writers but as they note in their announcement, the writing doesn’t end when production begins.
Daredevil: Born Again
Disney+’s Daredevil: Born Again, which will mark Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock’s official arrival into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (after a brief cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home), was filming in Brooklyn. Was. Deadline reported on May 10 that picketing writers had successfully shut down production on the show for at least a week. It’s unclear when filming will resume but the show is only two months into a planned eight month shoot.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 3
How’s this for unfortunate timing? Production on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 3 was set to begin on May 2 … the very same day the writers strike began. As such, filming on the new season is likely to be postponed, according to Trek Central.
Cobra Kai Season 6
According to Cobra Kai showrunner Jon Hurwitz, production on the show’s sixth season (which Netflix ordered in January) has officially been halted due to the strike.
Season 6 was set to be the last batch of episodes for the Karate Kid spinoff and it is currently unknown how long the strike will delay production.
Yellowjackets Season 3
Yellowjackets season 2 is written, filmed, edited, and in the books for Showtime to distribute. In fact, the second season finale is still scheduled to premiere on Friday, May 26 via Showtime online and Sunday, May 28 via Showtime on cable. Yellowjackets season 3, however, is another story. Per Yellowjackets co-creator Ashley Lyle, after precisely one day in the writers’ room, production on the third season has shut down.
Abbott Elementary Season 3
Abbott Elementary presents an interesting case that a lot of TV series often run into during a work stoppage. Emmy award winner Quinta Brunson is the show’s star and producer but she’s also its lead writer, meaning some might wonder whether those multiple roles may allow for production on the show to continue. Well, of course not, nerds. Solidarity forever!
Following its star and creator’s lead, Abbott Elementary has shut down its writing process for season 3. In an interview with Democracy Now!, Abbott writer Brittani Nichols revealed that the biggest impact the strike could have on season 3 is a decrease in episodes.
Andor Season 2
Originally it seemed possible that production on Disney+ Star Wars series Andor would continue as long as showrunner Tony Gilroy operated only in his capacity as producer and not head writer. After receiving some criticism for this approach, Gilroy has elected to shut down his involvement in season 2 entirely, calling into question whether production can continue.
House of the Dragon Season 2
At first glance, the status regarding House of the Dragon season 2 and the writers strike appears to be a good news for Game of Thrones fans. Per Variety, House of the Dragon is set to continue filming as all of its scripts were completed prior to the strike. Here’s the thing about that though: even when the writing process is technically over…it’s never actually over.
TV shows and movies often employ writers on set to punch up dialogue that isn’t quite working or to take a pass at a scene from a different perspective. We know for a fact that House of the Dragon season 1 featured such improvisation with actors Matt Smith and Emma D’Arcy occasionally working with showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal on set to fine-tune their characters. Will House of the Dragon season 2 be afforded similar opportunities? And if not, will the quality of the season suffer? Only time will tell.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight
While House of the Dragon is well into filming, the next announced Game of Thrones spinoff won’t be moving forward until the writers strike is resolved. George R.R. Martin offered his “unequivocal support” to the WGA in announcing that work will not be starting on this prequel series based on his “Tales of Dunk and Egg” novellas.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 2
Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2 faces a similar situation to its fantasy rival House of the Dragon. Per Variety, The Rings of Power season 2 had 19 days of filming remaining at the time of the writers strike’s beginning. Production plans to continue without showrunners and WGA members J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay on set. While both The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon film in the United Kingdom, U.K.-based writers have indicated that they would not cross any WGA picket lines.
Jeopardy! Season 39
Here’s an interesting example of how an ongoing writers strike will affect the shows you might not think it would. Venerable syndicated quiz show Jeopardy! does have a staff of WGA-member writers that write the many clues that make up the game. All of those clues were written prior to the strike so production on Jeopardy! isn’t facing any problems there. It is, however, facing some hosting difficulties.
Mayim Bialik, one of Jeopardy!‘s two hosts alongside Ken Jennings, is a longtime member of the Screen Actors Guild. According to Deadline, she has opted not to film the final episodes of Jeopardy!‘s 39th season in solidarity with her writing peers. Jennings will step in to host the last batch of episodes before the summer break so this season won’t experience any delays. Should the strike persist into the next year though, Jeopardy! could be facing some major issues.
Network TV is Mostly Safe for Now
Network television operates a little differently from its streaming counterparts. Episode orders are more fungible and networks also have the benefit of airing reruns. Additionally, it appears as though several studios foresaw the incoming strike and began banking episodes for new seasons of their TV shows immediately after production on the current season ended. According to TV Line, two such shows unlikely to be affected by the writers strike are NBC’s Quantum Leap season 2 and La Brea season 3.
Still, the longer the strike persists, the more even network TV will feel its effects. LA Times notes that some series that were currently filming in Los Angeles like HBO Max’s Hacks has since shut down production.
What Will Netflix Do?
We’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the Netflix elephant in the room. As a pioneer of the streaming age, arguably no studio bears more responsibility for creating the conditions that led to a writers strike than Netflix. Interestingly, Netflix also appears to be best-situated to endure a protracted work stoppage. Netflix famously films its TV shows and movies far in advance so the streamer likely has the rest of its 2023 comfortably mapped out. We saw that dynamic play out during the pandemic when production throughout Hollywood was shut down but Netflix continued to churn out hits.
Additionally, Netflix has opened up a formidable international content pipeline as evidenced by its recent commitment to invest $2.5 billion on South Korean programming over the next four years. Netflix would undoubtedly prefer a healthy geographic diversity of content on its stream but regardless of how long the writers strike continues, it’s homepage won’t be barren anytime soon.
Movies Currently in Production
While television is undoubtedly the most immediately and visibly affected by a strike—we hope you don’t mind probably going a few months without late night talk shows!–film productions can also subtly be influenced by a writers strike, even if it’s already in production. As we noted on certain above entries like House of the Dragon, many Hollywood productions like to keep at least one writer on set in case a scene isn’t working or perhaps an actor wants to try something different. At the very least, dialogue is often being punched up regularly on the type of blockbusters and genre fare mainstream audiences adore.
During the last writer’s strike, for example, the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace went into production with what star Daniel Craig later called “the barebones of a script.” Craig and director Marc Forster, neither of whom are WGA writers, found themselves essentially having to rewrite scenes amongst themselves. Michael Bay experienced a similar strangeness on the set of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
While we cannot speak with any certainty on if films currently in production will be immediately impacted by the WGA strike, it seems like a fair possibility. Marvel films, for example, are famous for rewriting scenes and plot scenarios all the way into post-production. And currently, Captain America: New World Order is filming in Atlanta with stars Anthony Mackie and Harrison Ford. On the non-Marvel scene, Sony’s Bad Boys 4, which stars a returning Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, is also shooting in Atlanta.
Sony is likewise currently filming an untitled Ghostbusters 4 with Paul Rudd and the rest of the returning cast of Ghostbusters: Afterlife in New York City, with a December 20 release date on the horizon. Meanwhile Fede Alvarez’s upcoming Alien sequel is also filming in Europe, as is Robert Eggers’ Nosferatu remake.
It is again unclear if the writers’ strike will immediately affect one or any of these projects, particularly those that have been in development for years (looking at you, Nosferatu). Time will tell. The movies currently prepping to be filmed this summer, on the other hand may be facing some tougher choices…
Movies About to Go into Production
As mentioned above with Quantum of Solace, some films that go into production without a writer on set, or a script the filmmakers are satisfied with, face turbulent waters. For instance, it has now been confirmed that Marvel and Mahershala Ali’s Blade will be forced to delay again since that movie is supposed to begin filming at the end of May. A little further down the road still, Marvel’s Thunderbolts is expected to begin production in June. Those films currently have release dates slated for Sept. 6, 2024 and May 4, 2024, respectively. Meanwhile across the street, DC’s relaunch kickoff, Superman: Legacy, appears fairly safe since production is not expected to begin until early 2024.
On the non-superhero side of things, Ridley Scott’s much anticipated sequel to Gladiator is intended to begin production in June. Meanwhile other films currently expected to begin production soon (although no firm dates appear to be set) include Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. If the writers strike drags on long enough, it may become an issue.