Universal Studio Group has made a controversial decision regarding the reinstatement of its writing and non-writing producers, opting not to extend their deals. This move has particularly impacted writers, whose deals were suspended throughout the entire five-month duration of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike.
The decision made by Universal Studio Group means that these writers now face the prospect of losing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in earnings without an extension. While other studios and streamers have been handling extension decisions on a case-by-case basis, Universal Studio Group is the only one to have implemented a blanket “no extension” policy.
This policy undoubtedly saves money for the studio’s parent company, NBCUniversal, but it has left many in the industry feeling frustrated and unsupported. Warner Bros TV, for example, has extended some showrunners’ deals but has chosen not to extend a significant portion of suspended deals, particularly those set to end in 2025 and beyond.
Sony’s approach to the reinstatement letters has left the extension decision open for future discussions, as their letters did not include a clause specifying whether extensions would be granted or not. Meanwhile, streamers have largely opted to extend their overall deals, although information regarding notifications from Amazon Studios is still pending.
It is worth noting that studios and streamers have refrained from granting extensions to deals that were not intended to be renewed, as well as deals that expired during the strike or are set to expire in the near future. Unlike the WGA work stoppage in 2007-2008, no overall or first-look deal terminations have been reported during this recent strike.
The lack of extension support from Universal Studio Group has stirred controversy within the industry and highlights the struggle faced by writers who have already endured a lengthy strike. As the industry continues to navigate through these challenging times, it remains to be seen how other studios and streamers will approach the issue of deals and extensions moving forward.