I think most people in Hollywood are hoping to put the crippling labor unrest of 2023 completely behind them. Like Chris Evans with Ghosted or HBO with The Idol, we’ll all just pretend it never happened, and these next couple years will be free from work stoppages. I even predicted as much last week. But I’m now questioning that forecast after a panel I moderated on Tuesday at the Labor Innovation and Technology Summit at C.E.S. in Las Vegas with the leaders of the five most aggressive industry unions— including IATSE, the below-the-line crew union, whose current deal is up July 31; and the Teamsters, which represents everyone from on-set drivers to casting directors, and has several deals expiring this year.
I know that’s the drill—it would’ve been weird if they hadn’t threatened to strike—but the same artificial intelligence issues that prolonged the WGA and SAG-AFTRA impasses haven’t gone away. Arguably, they’ve become thornier as the studios and streamers learn more about the technology and its ability to cut costs in a business where everyone is looking to cut costs. So what these union leaders say and do this year is as important to Hollywood as any studio mogul or movie star.