Earnings by members of the WGA West topped $1 billion last year for a fifth year in a row, although total employment was down 1.6% from the previous year, according to the guild’s latest earnings report.
Film writers, who have seen a steady erosion of income over the last 20 years, saw a 1.9% increase in earnings last year and employment was up 3.6% to 1,799 jobs. Even so, except for 2013 and 2014, last year’s $362.1 million in film earnings was lower than every year since 1997.
Television continues to be the booming marketplace for writers, who earned more than twice as much last year as film writers. And although TV writers saw a 2% decline in earnings from record levels in 2014, they topped $800 million for a second year in a row – double their earnings in 2000. ...
The guild’s foreign levies program distributed another $12.4 million to writers and heirs during the last fiscal year. To date, the program has collected more than $218 million on behalf of guild members and their heirs.
The Writers Guild collects foreign levies on behalf of animation writers. Several years ago, the Animation Guild joined a lawsuit initiated by foreign and American writers over the way the WGAw has administered foreign levy money. That case was ultimately settled.
Our fine entertainment conglomerates receive a chunk of the foreign levy cash paid out to creators in the United States, but not in most foreign countries. Many nations overseas have "moral rights" for writers and directors embedded in law, so many individual creators get 100% of the levy money. Thanks to congressional action in 1912, that doesn't happen in the U.S. of A.
The Animation Guild has been jousting with the WGAw over foreign levies for two decades. Nevertheless, we're pleased to see that television writers are making more money, even if movie scribes are not.