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Hollywood Strikes Could Open Up Opportunities for More Conservative Content to Thrive

Hollywood Strikes Could Open Up Opportunities for More Conservative Content to Thrive

Members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) on strike hold signs in front of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif., on July 14, 2023. (Jill McLaughlin/The Epoch Times)

Carly Mayberry

Carly Mayberry

7/15/2023

Updated: 7/16/2023

Now that Hollywood’s actors have joined its writers on the picket line, new content creation from studios and streamers has effectively been cut off for the time being.
There will be no red carpet walking or promotional events for actors to attend, which seems especially out of the ordinary during the summer blockbuster season. To belabor the point, on Thursday, the big name cast of director Christopher Nolan’s feature documentary “Oppenheimer” left the film’s London premiere as news of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) was preparing to strike dropped. That meant actors Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, and others suddenly disappeared leaving Nolan to explain their absence. 
While that means streamers may very well be looking beyond the United States for films and TV shows to strengthen their content line-ups in places like South Korea, which recently has grown its global film impact from its Oscar win for 2020’s movie “Parasite,” it also means it will be relying on reality show content and possibly even the newer more conservative platforms for viewing options.
Those right-of-center pipelines range from Fox News to The Daily Wire, whose founder Ben Shapiro announced in January of 2021 that it was launching a studio for TV and film. It also includes Blaze TV, myriad YouTube channels, and Angel Studios, the curated streaming platform behind this summer’s surprise hit “Sound of Freedom.” 
“The promised crush of reality shows just won’t cut it,” Christian Toto, host of The Hollywood in Toto Podcast, told The Epoch Times. “Enter the right-leaning platforms, which will be presenting original fare to a content-starved public. Plus, many of the shows will likely be apolitical in nature, meaning left-leaning crowds may give them a chance.” 

More Conservative Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Partisan Content

Toto said The Daily Wire’s first few films, which include “Run Hide Fight,” “Shut In,” and the Gina Carano-starrer “Terror on the Prairie” had little, if any, partisan themes, while Blaze TV’s “Re-Opening,” its first original comedy, proved similarly apolitical. 
Future Daily Wire originals include a series of woke-free children’s programming that is part of a $100 million venture. 
For its part, Blaze TV debuted “Re-Opening,” its first original comedic feature on May 4. More comedic programming is set to premiere, in addition to the video podcast/sketch series “Normal World.”
Still reeling from the wave of support for this summer’s “Sound of Freedom,” Angel Studios released the faith-based indie film “His Only Son” earlier this year, which was reportedly profitable. Its TV series the historical Christian drama “The Chosen,” about the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, is said to be one of the most successful crowdfunded TV series in existence. More movies are set to be released by the studio, including “The Shift,” a dystopian science fiction drama, that is expected to premiere in December. 
“It’s been amazing what’s happened in the last 10 days,” Jared Geesey, Angel Studio’s senior vice-president of global distribution, told The Epoch Times of the response to “Sound of Freedom.” “And it’s bringing awareness to such a key issue that typically doesn’t get attention. But it’s created in such a powerful way and deals with it tactfully and in an emotional and inspirational way.”
“The success at the box office—we couldn’t be more grateful,” he added, noting the studio’s “Angel Guild,” which is made up of 100,000 investors across the world who decide what content the studio and streaming platform creates. 
In the realm of news and commentary shows, Fox News’ “Gutfeld1” has been at the top of the evening talk shows before the writers strike broke out in May. Now, it’s become the only comedy home on network TV when it comes to poking fun at the latest headlines.

WGA, SAG-AFTRA Strikes Affect Everyone in the ‘Biz’

Still, it’s not like Hollywood’s strikes don’t affect both creators and performers across political lines. 
“It affects everybody—conservative actors are still part of SAG,” Mr. Geesey said, noting that “The Chosen” in its fourth season had to stop production on Friday.The actors that are hired are across the entire political spectrum.”
It was Thursday morning that SAG-AFTRA unanimously decided to strike. The historic walk-out comes after contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios, fell apart at midnight on July 12, even after a federal mediator was called in at the eleventh hour. The contracts were originally set to expire on June 30, but negotiations were extended 12 days. 
This is the first SAG-AFTRA strike in about 40 years, and the first time both actors and writers have been on strike together since 1960. That’s as both studios and streaming platforms have already canceled or delayed many productions, as the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West have been on strike since May.

Union Reps Point to AI and Streaming Residuals, Executives See Disruption

“The entire business model has been changed by streaming, digital, AI—this is a moment of history and a moment of truth. If we don’t stand tall right now, we are all going to be in jeopardy of being replaced by machines and big business, who cares more about Wall Street than you and your family,” said Fran Drescher, SAG-AFTRA president and co-chief negotiator at a press conference after the vote.
That’s as Thursday morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger went on CNBC to criticize the union’s decision to walk out as “disruptive.”
Toto said how much different content comes out likely depends on the length of the strikes. 
“The WGA work stoppage could go on, and on, and that will prevent new projects from entering the production pipeline. That means, at some point, studios and platforms will be scrambling to find fresh shows and films to deliver,” he said.
Mr. Geesey noted how important this moment is. 
“I do think there are lots of people continuing to support the kind of content that aligns with your values,” he said. “This is an important reminder right now—that there are a lot of people working to create the content that’s out there.”
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Carly Mayberry

Carly Mayberry

Author

As a seasoned journalist and writer, Carly has covered the entertainment and digital media worlds as well as local and national political news and travel and human-interest stories. She has written for Forbes and The Hollywood Reporter. Most recently, she served as a staff writer for Newsweek covering cancel culture stories along with religion and education.

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