Barry Diller’s Warning: The Movie Industry Could Collapse

I have been closely following the writers’ and actors’ strike, its impact on Hollywood, and its ultimate impact on the toy industry (see: “Hollywood on Strike; What it Means for the Toy Industry“).

On Sunday, Barry Diller, who ran several media companies and is a Television Hall of Fame member, was interviewed on Face the Nation about the actors’ and writers’ strikes. Diller, now 80 years old, has seen a lot, so when he said the following, I sat up and took notice:

If in fact, [the strike] doesn’t get settled until Christmas or so, then next year, there’s not going to be many programs for anybody to watch. So, you’re gonna see subscriptions get pulled, which is going to reduce the revenue of all these movie companies, television companies, the result of which is that there will be no programs. And at just the time, strike is settled that you want to get back up, there won’t be enough money. So this actually will have devastating effects if it is not settled soon.

This is a huge business both domestically and for-for world export. And if it is- these conditions- it sounds like I’m crying to the skies. But these conditions will potentially produce an absolute collapse of an entire industry.

Hollywood on Strike; What it Means for the Toy Industry

And if there are no movies or television shows, there will be no media to support the licenses that drive so much of the toy industry’s revenue. Diller didn’t mention toys or licensing, but there are concerns for those who depend on licensing to sell their toys.

If you are a toy company that has a movie or TV license, how will you meet the numbers you have contractually guaranteed to the studios if there are no shows? And how will the toy industry make up for lost revenue if there is nothing to drive sales of action figures and other license-heavy toys?

We work and live in a world where there are no silos. A fire in the Canadian forests creates air pollution that sickens people who live a thousand miles away. A pandemic that starts in China ends up making people sick in Peoria. And, of course, a Screen Actors Guild strike can negatively impact toy companies’ fortunes worldwide.

Is Barry Diller right? After all, there is a lot of positioning going on between the unions and the studios.

Whether Diller is right or wrong, we live in a complicated world. What can we do? We can’t control much but can manage a lot. If you are a toy company heavily encumbered with licenses, you should reach out to the studios sooner than later.

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