Amazon Settles With WGA for $4 Million-Plus Over Unpaid Residuals for Writers

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Following last month’s agreement with Netflix for unpaid residuals, the Writers Guild of America informed members that it has won more than $4 million in previously unpaid residuals and interest via a settlement with Amazon.

The settlement resulted from an arbitration over the compensation for 37 screenwriters on 31 films distributed by Amazon through their streaming platform.

“Like Netflix, Amazon had been systematically undervaluing imputed license fees on theatrical films where it was both the producer and the distributor,” the WGA West message read. “Amazon even underpaid residuals on films it acquired from independent producers, imputing a low license fee for these films rather than paying the writer a residual of 1.2% of the actual license fee paid to the producer, as required by the MBA (Minimum Basic Agreement).”

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Amazon did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on the settlement.

The Guild said 19 writers of Amazon-produced films will receive a combined $2.1 million in residuals and $1.2 million in interest. Eighteen other writers who worked on films purchased by Amazon will get more than $450,000 in residuals and more than $300,000 in interest.

Deadline first reported the news of the Amazon settlement.

In early August, the WGA said it had secured $42 million in unpaid writer residuals from Netflix after an arbitration ruling was handed down regarding the Sandra Bullock horror film “Bird Box.”

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“Netflix argued the WGA should accept a substandard formula the company negotiated with DGA and SAG-AFTRA. After a hearing, however, an arbitrator determined differently: that the license fee should have been greater than the gross budget of the film,” read the WGA West memo from president Meredith Stiehm and other leaders.

Netflix was ordered to pay “Bird Box” screenwriter Eric Heisserer $850,000 in residuals along with $350,000 in interest for a total of $1.2 million.

Because the arbitrator ruled that writers on original Netflix productions should be paid on the same level as the licensing fees the streamer pays for third-party titles, the decision was also applied to 139 other original Netflix films, meaning that 216 writers for those films will receive $42 million in unpaid residuals, with an additional $13.5 million pursuant in interest payments.

In total, the affected Netflix writers will receive $64 million in residuals, which the Guild said was $20 million more than what they would have received had they agreed to be compensated under the pattern formula negotiated by SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild.

Jeremy Fuster contributed to this report.

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