Hollywood on Strike; What it Means for the Toy Industry

The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers went on strike in May. Negotiations are not set to resume until October. Because there is no writing, there are no scripts, and because there are no scripts, studios are not shooting any new movies or television shows.

If that wasn’t enough, actors (SAG-AFTRA Union) may also go on strike. If they do, and it looks like they will, it will be the first time in 63 years that both writers and actors have been on strike simultaneously.

According to The New York Times, 80% of Hollywood production is already shut down even without an actor’s strike. Here is how New York Times writer Nicole Spirling describes the impact of the strike:

The effects of a dual strike would also soon be coming to your television, with network shows going into reruns and a likely proliferation of reality television. Also, actors would no longer be able to promote new films, a reality that already exists to a large degree because the writers’ strike forced the late-night shows to go dark.

“A Second Strike Is Threatening Hollywood,” Nicole Spirling, New York Times, July 11, 2023

Although this will make life a little less enjoyable for those who enjoy movies, television, and streaming, it will significantly impact toy companies. The toy and entertainment industries enjoy a symbiotic relationship in which Hollywood makes the movies and builds the brands, and the toy industry sells the toys based on those brands. If Hollywood hurts, we will hurt.

How do you plan your movie and movie character licensed toy production if you don’t know if the shows will be there to drive sales? How do you compensate for those lost revenue dollars if you are a toy company? And what about those financial guarantees and revenue projections you made to acquire a license?

The Hollywood toy industry relationship has been good for both industries. And yes, the strike will come, and the strike will go. In the meantime, however, these strikes could create a lot of pain and raise a number of questions.

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