Film jobs for screenwriters fall for second year

July 02, 2012|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Television writer and producer Chris Keyser is president of the Writers Guild of America.
Television writer and producer Chris Keyser is president of the Writers… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Screenwriting jobs and wages in Hollywood declined for a second straight year, reflecting the broader pullback in production by the major film studios, according to the Writers Guild of America West.

The WGA, which represents about 12,000 writers, reported that employment fell 8% for screenwriters in 2011, compared with a year earlier. Total earnings were down 12.6% from the prior year.

Over the last two years, 15% fewer writers worked in film, earning about 20% less in the aggregate.

Feature film residuals dropped 10%, led by dramatic declines in receipts writers collected from DVD and Blu-ray disc sales. Earnings from home entertainment fell 23.9% in 2011, compared with the prior year. Pay-TV payments were off about 5% compared with a record year in 2010.

Digital distribution by such online services as Netflix Inc.and was a bright spot for film. Fees paid to writers for new-media uses nearly tripled from 2010 to 2011, growing to $3.37 millionĀ 

West Coast guild writers working in TV fared a bit better, reflecting that segment of the entertainment industry which has become a reliable profit center for media conglomerates.

Total television employment grew slightly last year to 3,320 writers, even though total earnings fell nearly 1% to $559.2 million.

Residuals paid for the reuse of programs in foreign television markets grew a robust 60% in 2011, compared with the year earlier. The steady growth in programming for cable TV drove residuals to an all-time high of $24.73 million in 2011.


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