I spoke exclusively with Michael Lynton, the Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, about the impact of the work stoppage on his business, and on Hollywood. The video clips are below. Sony's business if focused largely on making movies, which have a long time horizon, so Sony fared much better than its rival studios that own TV networks.
And for Sony's TV production business (it produces TV shows to sell to the networks), the strike ended JUST in time to churn out some TV shows for the fall season.
So, after 100 days of strike put tens of thousands of people out of work, the question is, was the work stoppage worth it? Lynton says the headway into the digital future-- tackling revenues from digital distribution. This despite the fact that Lynton acknowledges that the digital landscape is constantly changing and will certainly be different by the time this just negotiated contract expires in three years.
Lynton was impressed by the unity within the WGA--none of the big writers splintered off so they could start writing again. He also pointed out the incredibly collaboration between rival studios. With the risk of becoming a victim of these new technologies, instead of figuring out how to profit from them, everyone pulled together to keep the business on track.
The writers didn't want to miss out on what they consider their fair share of digital revenues, just as they felt they did with DVDs. And the media giants don't want the entertainment industry to become the victim of technology the way the music industry was destroyed by piracy and file sharing. This battle over digital revenues shows just how crucial the battle for the future is to both sides.
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