EXCLUSIVE: Reported earnings by WGA West members had been down almost $185 million final 12 months, a ten.5% decline from 2019 due to the pandemic and months of shuttered movie and TV manufacturing, based on the guild’s newest annual monetary report. Total reported earnings fell to $1.5712 billion final 12 months, down from $1.756 billion the 12 months earlier than – the primary earnings decline since 2014. Even so, the employment of guild members fell by solely 6.6% – to six,108 jobs final 12 months, which was down from 6,541 jobs in 2019.
“While the Covid-19 pandemic brought film and television production to a standstill in early 2020, many writers were able to continue working remotely through the year,” the report says. “Still, writers’ reported earnings and employment reflect the pandemic’s widespread disruption to the entertainment industry. In all fields, writers reported declines in both employment and earnings, reflecting a truncated 2019-2020 television season, delayed 2020-2021 season and months of theater closures.”
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The guild famous, nevertheless, that “As Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease in 2021, the industry should be able to fully resume production of television and film content.”
On theatrical movie initiatives, screenwriter earnings declined 12% – from $510.3 million in 2019 to $449 million final 12 months, though the guild famous that “this figure is likely to increase with late reporting.” Screenwriter employment declined by 9.6% to 2,055 writers reporting display earnings final 12 months.
Earnings reported by tv and digital platform writers additionally declined – down 9.5% from $1.2308 billion in 2019 to $1.1136 billion final 12 months, though the guild famous that this determine can also be anticipated to rise with late reporting. The guild additionally identified its “data regarding television and digital platform earnings is generally based on Minimum Basic Agreement minimums and does not capture changes in TV over-scale income.”
“To protect over-scale pay,” the guild stated, “the WGA negotiated improvements to the span provision in the 2020 MBA, increasing the earnings threshold to qualify for span protection from $350,000 to $400,000 for writer-producers working on broadcast, pay or HBSVOD short-order series, or $375,000 for basic cable short-order series. In addition, the guild’s agency campaign has realigned agency incentives with those of their writer-clients, giving writers access to representatives who will work to maximize over-scale pay.” Earlier this 12 months, the guild won an historic victory in its almost two-year battle to reshape the expertise company enterprise.
The guild additionally reported that 162 writers reported employment in information, promotion, informational and interactive programming, with earnings of $8.7 million, which was down 41.6% from 2019. “This substantial decline in earnings was due in part to layoffs and Covid-19 changes at ViacomCBS, impacting news and promotional writers,” the guild stated.
Residuals collected by the WGA in 2020 decreased 0.9% from final 12 months to almost $467 million. Even so, it was the second highest residuals haul of all time. Total tv residuals decreased 1.4%, whereas residuals from characteristic movies declined by lower than 1%. New media is the most important residuals class total, accounting for greater than a 3rd of the full residuals collected – a rise over final 12 months’s share, when new media accounted for 30.4% of the full residuals collected.
Television’s pattern of being the strongest residuals space continued in 2020 with $307.69 million in receipts, representing 65.9% of the full residuals collected. New media residuals for tv packages had been up 16% over final 12 months, rising from $88.76 to $102.95 million. And whereas international tv residuals dropped 8.9% from final 12 months, it stays the second largest space for tv after new media, at $45 million.
Domestic syndication residuals decreased 22.6% from 2019, however is the guild’s third largest market at $29.27 million. Network prime time had a major improve of 23.6% over final 12 months with $24.56 million in receipts, which the guild stated “is no doubt attributed to more repeats due to the pandemic.” Home video residuals continued their precipitous decline, bringing in solely $1.8 million, a lower of 13.5% from final 12 months and a 66.2% lower over the past 5 years.
Total characteristic movie residuals noticed a slight improve to $159.25 million. “As expected,” the report says, “new media residuals are the highest earning residuals category at $68.92 million for feature films,” posting a rise of 26.8%. Pay TV residuals are the second largest class for movie, with a 15.3% drop from final 12 months at $39.62 million. Worldwide tv receipts, though the third largest greenback class at $38.17 million, “stalled internationally,” the guild stated, leading to an 8.9% drop from final 12 months. As with tv, dwelling video residuals for movie proceed to say no, with a 25.4% lower from 2019 to $9.58 million, and a five-year lower of 58.3%.
The Guild’s Foreign Levies Program, in the meantime, distributed $29.1 million to writers and heirs over the last fiscal 12 months. This is the best annual disbursement in this system’s 30-year historical past, bringing the full quantity distributed to writers over the lifetime of this system to $275 million. This cash comes from a tax on clean media and tools used to report American movies and TV reveals which might be broadcast in almost 20 international nations, and are designed to compensate the “authors” of American movies and TV reveals exhibited in these nation. Some nations additionally impose levies on cable retransmissions and video leases. The cash is rounded up by international accumulating societies and distributed to the guilds and studios.
Membership dues, that are based mostly on earnings, fell by $4.6 million – down from $36 million in 2019 to $31.4 million final 12 months. The guild famous, nevertheless, that “This decline was offset by unrealized investment gains resulting from the continuing strong equity market, which produced an overall increase in income (including unrealized gains) to $46.1 million, up from $38.5 million in the last fiscal year.”
The guild’s annual expenditures of $36.2 million had been decrease than fiscal 12 months 2020’s whole of $38.2 million, a lower that the guild stated “was the result of a number of factors: reduced operating costs attributable to remote work, the curtailment of most in-person member functions, including at the Guild Theater; and the production of a virtual WGA Awards ceremony.” The guild ended the fiscal 12 months with whole web belongings of over $87.7 million.
“The effect of the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is still being felt,” the guild’s Membership and Finance Committee stated in an accompanying assertion. “Next year’s report will give us a more complete picture of the full impact of the pandemic on member employment and the Guild’s finances. For now, however, members should feel confident that the Guild remains on a strong financial footing with significant reserves that will enable us to face the current uncertainties.”
The committee famous that the guild’s annual monetary report is printed every year “in the interest of transparency and a fully informed membership.” The WGA West is the one Hollywood union that gives the sort of earnings information.