Judd Apatow Says Studios May Not Want to Quickly Resolve Writers Strike: ‘They’ve Probably Been Planning This for Years’
Judd Apatow thinks the studios and streamers already have an idea of when the writers strike may end.
“I think they probably already know what they’re going to bend on,” Apatow told Variety Saturday at the Rock4EB benefit in Malibu. “I would assume they already know what date this is going to end. They’ve probably been planning this for years.”
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The writer-director reflected comments heard on picket lines in Los Angeles and New York after talks cratered between the Writers Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the writers union began to strike Tuesday. Apatow explained that he sees the strike as a calculated business move by Hollywood’s largest employers.
“I always think that whatever happens, they could have figured it out already. When these things conclude, you never go, ‘I understand why it took that long.’ It’s never something so inventive, and groundbreaking, that you think, ‘Oh, people needed to go to war for months over it.’ It’s always a very obvious position,” Apatow said. “So that’s what’s scary about it is that there is a solution but I’m not sure that all of the business interests are interested in getting to it quickly.”
While Apatow doesn’t currently have any projects in production directly impacted by the strike, he shares that the standstill “affects everything because we’re in development on a lot of things so you just have to stop… Then as soon as the strike ends, everybody says, ‘Oh, now we have a backlog, we don’t need anything.’”
“That aspect of it complicates everything that we’re trying to do,” Apatow continued. “We’re not in the middle of anything other than writing.”
Apatow says the studios and streamers aren’t treating writers as essential parts for their end games. “We’re like Twitter’s employees, that if they want to save money, they just get rid of 80 percent of the workforce,” he said. “That’s why it’s an existential problem. If the ecosystem of writers doesn’t exist, no one will learn how to do it. No one will be able to survive doing it. And then everyone will go, ‘Well, maybe I’ll write video games, maybe I’ll make TikToks at home and become an influencer.’ It’s a lot of creative people who can do other things. So you don’t want the whole system to collapse.”
He said the increased piece of the financial pie that the WGA is asking for isn’t about greed and trying to become rich.
“We have a system now that that does not reward success for a lot of these projects,” Apatow said. “If you make something and a billion people watch it, you don’t make more money than if it was a disaster, right? That’s not good for creativity because it takes away a lot of the motivation for the creative people, because people work really hard to create some sort of cushion for their lives. All of our work is ebb and flow. The successes pay for the time when things aren’t going well. Sometimes they go well and sometimes they don’t, but you can live off of the time that you wrote something that had a lot of residual [fees paid out]. It’s always been a tenuous career. But if you take away most of the linchpins, it’s a career that a majority people can’t survive.”
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