02 Jan Strikes, Streaming and AI: Hollywood Executives Debate the Issues That Defined a Wild 2023 [LA Times]
BY RYAN FAUGHNDER
January 2, 2024 | For people who work in the entertainment industry, 2023 was a year that many would prefer to forget.
Hollywood’s momentum toward the recovery of the box office was quickly sapped by six months of strikes, first with the Writers Guild of America, then by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
The writers’ and actors’ walkouts — marking the first time in six decades that the two guilds’ picket lines overlapped — came as legacy media and entertainment companies grappled with their decision to charge into the streaming wars. Companies that spent billions of dollars to build up direct-to-consumer Netflix competitors, sacrificing profitable but declining TV networks along the way, found themselves under the increasingly critical eye of Wall Street. How many of these services would survive, let alone turn a profit?
All the while, as the strikes dragged on, the specter of artificial intelligence programs emerged from being a sideshow in the labor negotiations into one of the great existential debates roiling actors, scribes, producers and everyone in the executive suites.
The Times invited a panel of top entertainment industry executives from companies including Sony’s TriStar Pictures, Warner Bros. and United Talent Agency, along with producers of hits such as “Barbarian,” “Wednesday” and “BS High,” to participate in a wide-ranging discussion of issues. Topics included the damage done by the strikes, the challenges facing the theatrical movie business, the uncertain future of streaming and linear television and how studios and artists are responding to the threat of artificial intelligence technology.
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