Contract negotiations between Hollywood studios and striking screenwriters could restart next week, the studios said in a statement on Thursday. A return to bargaining — the last talks were held three weeks ago — could be a turning point in the strike, now in its fifth month.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of entertainment companies, and the Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 television and film writers, have been squabbling over procedure. Last month, studios sweetened their offer for a new three-year contract — and then, in an unusual move, publicly disclosed the details, hoping rank-and-file guild members would be satisfied and pressure their leaders to make a deal.
Union leaders, who denounced the disclosure, have since insisted that the onus is on studios to keep improving their offer. The studios have rejected that demand, contending that they would be negotiating against themselves.
On Wednesday, the Writers Guild made a move, according to the statement by the studio alliance.
“The W.G.A. reached out to the A.M.P.T.P. and asked for a meeting to move negotiations forward,” the alliance said. “We have agreed and are working to schedule a meeting for next week.” The alliance added that it was “eager” to reach a deal and was committed to “working together with the W.G.A. to end the strike.”
The Writers Guild said in an email to members that it was “in the process of scheduling a time to get back in the room” but declined to comment further.
The union reached out to studios amid frustration from some of its A-list members, including Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story”), Kenya Barris (“black-ish”), Noah Hawley (“Fargo”) and Dan Fogelman (“This Is Us”). Some have called union leaders to ask pointed questions. Why can’t you get in a negotiating room with studio representatives and not come out until you have a deal? Others have pushed for a sit-down to hear their union’s strategy for resolving the strike.
The financial toll on people across the entertainment industry has become increasingly grim. Showrunners like Mr. Murphy employ thousands of crew members across their productions, putting them in the position of being besieged by people who ask when they can get back to work and having no answers.
At 136 days, the strike is one of the longest in the history of the Writers Guild. (The longest was 153 days in 1988.) The union has called this moment “existential,” arguing that the streaming era has deteriorated its members’ working conditions and compensation levels.
Studios have defended their proposal as offering the highest wage increase to writers in more than three decades, while also offering protections against artificial intelligence and signaling a willingness to discuss staffing minimums in television writers’ rooms.