The Writers Guild of America West said Thursday that 216 writers who worked on Netflix theatrical films have received an additional $42 million in unpaid balances thanks to a recent arbitration award.
An arbitrator ruled in favor of the WGA, which raised payment concerns over outstanding payments owed to an author of the popular thriller Bird Box.
As a result of the ruling, Netflix was required to pay the author $850,000 in residual payments and $350,000 in interest, WGA West said in a letter sent to its members Thursday.
The guild said the ruling affects 139 other Netflix films involving WGA West and East writers, including action film Red Notice and comedy/drama Yes Day!.
WGA West said it is recovering about $13.5 million in interest from Netflix for late payment of balances on those projects.
Netflix did not respond to a request for comment on the ruling.
The guild’s minimum basic contract (MBA) with the Alliance for Film and TV Producers expires in May next year.
Under the MBA, authors earn residuals based on revenue from streaming markets, which typically accounts for 1.2% of the royalty paid to the producer, or if Netflix is also the producer and distributor, the fee is based on the royalty between “unrelated parties with comparable images,” said WGA West.
Netflix negotiated separate agreements with Hollywood unions such as the Directors Guild and SAG-AFTRA, but had no such agreement with the WGA.
“Netflix then tried to force the WGA to make this ‘pattern’ deal,” WGA West leaders said in a letter to their members. “Because it was clear that the new formula negotiated by the other guilds underestimated these ‘implied’ royalties, the guild instead took the dispute to arbitration.”
WGA West estimates that the award allowed 216 Netflix theatrical writers to receive $20 million more in residuals than they would have received under Netflix’s deals with DGA and SAG-AFTRA.
Bird Box remains one of Netflix’s all-time most popular English language films on the platform, ranking #3 based on hours watched according to the streaming service. “Bird Box” was watched for 282,020,000 hours on the streaming service in its first 28 days, according to Netflix.
“As studios increasingly act on their own on their own streaming platforms, we need to ensure writers are paid appropriately,” WGA West executives said in a letter to their members.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-08-04/lat-et-ct-wga-netflix-film-residuals Netflix pays millions more in residuals to writers, WGA says