Warner Bros. Discovery boss David Zaslav now admits that high-profile writers were right to demand major changes to the way creatives are compensated in Hollywood.
Zaslav told The New York Times in a lengthy new profile that he has no regrets about the deal struck Sept. 24 between studios and the Writers Guild of America for a new three-year contract.
“They are right about almost everything,” Zaslav said. “What if we pay too much? I have never regretted paying too much for a great talent or asset.”
In the deal, writers received a pay increase, minimum show staff requirements and protection from AI, among other things. Yet studios resisted writers’ demands for months, resulting in a strike that lasted a whopping 148 days and brought the industry to a near standstill. In July, Disney chief Bob Iger called the writers’ proposed changes to compensation “unrealistic.”
Zaslav’s suggestion that writers may now be overpaid will likely strike some detractors as ironic, considering the director received $246 million in compensation in 2021. WGA board member Adam Conover previously countered: “That’s about the same level as 10,000 writers are asking him to pay. our collective, okay?” For further context, if the Writers Guild, SAG-AFTRA and Directors Guild contracts are combined, the total cost is “closer to the high end of our annual cost estimate of $450 million to $600 million,” according to Moody’s Investor Service on November 10 .
The Time Profile points out that the writers’ and actors’ strikes have ultimately saved WBD a lot of money, but that Zaslav has been slow to greenlight new projects that could boost the company’s bottom line amid his extremely aggressive and controversial cost-cutting efforts. Even after making $3 billion in cuts, the company lost $400 million in the third quarter. The board of directors’ confidence in the executive branch, as the story shows, remains as high as ever.
The story follows the latest tale of Warners’ self-inflicted headache: shelving the advertised and then shelving another film, Coyote vs. Acme – a hybrid between live-action and animation that seemed as doomed to follow the same fate as last year Batgirl And Scoob! Holiday chase, which were dumped for tax write-offs. Following protests from the creative community, the company has since changed course and plans to sell the film to studios and streamers, although one congressman, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, is now calling for the studio to be investigated for “predatory and anti-competitive” practices. .