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WBD’s David Zaslav, who is the head of WBD, says that writers guild was correct and that he does not regret paying “too much” for a new contract

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Source: Warner Bros Discovery

David Zaslav

Six weeks after the Hollywood writers strike ended, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav has said the union was right and expressed no regrets “overpaying” for the new three-year contract.

“They are right about almost everything,” Zaslav told The New York Times in ‘How David Zaslav Blew Up Hollywood’ a far-reaching interview published on Wednesday. “So what if overpaying? I’ve never regretted overpaying for great talent or a great asset.”

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) contract is estimated to cost the studios and streamers $700m a year after the union and Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers reached a tentative deal on September 24 before union members ratified the deal on October 9.

Zaslav’s comment about overpaying will raise eyebrows in Hollywood in light of his $246.6m compensation in 2021, months before the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger was finalised.

The acquisition brought with it a $56bn debt load, which Zaslav and his CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels have addressed this year with a previously reported revised target of $4bn in cuts including job losses.

The SAG-AFTRA strike ended on November 9 and the union has said its tentative three-year deal is expected to cost the studios and streamers around $1bn over the contract term. The deal is currently before the union’s 160,000-strong membership in a ratification vote timed to end on December 5.

Wiedenfels told The New York Times that WBD expects to generate in the region of $1bn in free cash flow from the Hollywood work stoppages.

That comes from savings on production and related costs during the long production pause which began on May 2 when the writers went on strike and turned into a total shutdown on all filming involving SAG-AFTRA members on projects under the jurisdiction of the actors union as soon as it went on strike on July 14.

As part of cost-saving, Zaslav and Wiedenfels have shelved films for corporate tax write-offs. After adopting the tactic for Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt will be released in 2022. Executives have just reverted the course of the live-action/animation hybrid Coyote Vs. Acme by Looney Tunes. They’ve been screening it this week to streamers.

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