Negotiators for the striking Writers Guild of America are scheduled to meet again with representatives of Hollywood studios Thursday amid growing hope that a resolution to the months-long work stoppage could be in sight.
The WGA and leaders of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which is handling negotiations for studios, met Wednesday for the first time since mid-August. At the end of the day, they issued a joint statement saying talks would resume Thursday.
Neither side publicly commented on the content of Wednesday's talks, but at least one report suggested that things were looking up.
Citing unnamed sources, Deadline reported that the Wednesday session was attended by the heads of the major studios -- Netflix's Ted Sarandos, Disney's Bob Iger, Universal's Donna Langley and Warner Bros/Discovery's David Zaslav. One insider told the publication the discussion was "very encouraging," and the two sides plan to meet again Thursday. One source told Deadline that "incredible progress" was made during the talks.
WGA negotiators sent a message to union members Monday, telling them "You might not hear from us in the coming days while we are negotiating, but know that our focus is getting a fair deal for writers as soon as possible. We'll reach out again when there is something of significance to report."
With negotiations seemingly stalled earlier this month, the WGA negotiating team issued a statement suggesting that some traditional Hollywood studios should break ranks with the AMPTP and reach a deal directly with the writers' union. The WGA suggested it has spoken with some studio executives who believe a deal could be quickly struck.
"So, while the intransigence of the AMPTP structure is impeding progress, these behind-the-scenes conversations demonstrate there is a fair deal to be made that addresses our issues," according to the WGA negotiating team. "... We have made it clear that we will negotiate with one or more of the major studios, outside the confines of the AMPTP, to establish the new WGA deal.
"There is no requirement that the companies negotiate through the AMPTP. So, if the economic destabilization of their own companies isn't enough to cause a studio or two or three to either assert their own self-interest inside the AMPTP, or to break away from the broken AMPTP model, perhaps Wall Street will finally make them do it."
The AMPTP, however, issued a statement of its own saying all of its members are committed to working within the alliance to reach a deal for all studios.
"The AMPTP member companies are aligned and are negotiating together to reach a resolution," a statement from the alliance said. "Any suggestion to the contrary is false.
"Every member company of the AMPTP wants a fair deal for writers and actors and an end to the strikes, which are affecting not only our writer and actor colleagues, but also thousands of others across the industry. That is why the AMPTP has repeatedly put forward offers that address major priorities of the WGA, including a last round of offers on Aug. 17th and 18th."
Writers, who went on strike May 2, were joined on the picket line in July by the SAG-AFTRA actors' union. There have been no known contract talks between the studios and SAG-AFTRA since that strike began.
Both unions are pushing for protections against the use of artificial intelligence and improvements in salary, particularly on successful streaming programs.