Last week, I wrote how much I admired the Pencils Down ad, in which TV’s top showrunners said they would be doing no writing on their shows during a strike. I said that I’d be delighted to sign a similar ad for feature screenwriters. I’m happy to say the WGA took me up on the offer.
This morning’s trades include this ad, signed by nearly every screenwriter you can think of. 1 (Click for a bigger version.)
There was a lot of speculation that the flurry of deals made before the strike meant that feature scribes would be busy typing away on assignments between shifts on the picket line. Nope.
Personally, I’m not writing on three big movies: Shazam! for New Line, a Sam Mendes feature for Dreamworks, and my fourth collaboration with a certain director for Warner Bros. Today’s Variety just announced that Prince of Persia signed a director — Mike Newell — but has no writer to work with him.
The blockbusters of 2009 are sitting unwritten. That’s an economic factor I’ve never seen reported in all of this. The next installments of Spider-Man, Harry Potter, and every other movie franchise are unwritten and unproducible until the strike is over.
If I were a theater chain, I’d be worried. If I were Wal-Mart, I’d demand answers. If I were a shareholder, I’d demand blood. The AMPTP’s refusal to return to the bargaining table is costing more than jobs, and will keep hurting the studios well into 2009 unless they get back to negotiating.
- **UPDATE:** Note entirely true: If you think hard, you can come up with names of screenwriters not on this list. It was put together over the weekend, and some writers couldn’t be reached in time. So don’t think ill of someone whose name isn’t there. From talking with the organizers, not a single screenwriter said no. ↩