Hollywood fears strike as early as next month, may affect Bond 22

Studios are going into panic mode amid fears that a strike that could paralyse film productions may start as early as next month - and not next summer as was widely expected, reports The Guardian.

Talks between Tinseltown producers and the Writers Guild of America, the body that represents screenwriters, have grown increasingly bitter in recent weeks. The guild also recently sought an authorisation to strike, leading studio executives to believe that work stoppage from November 1, the day after the current agreement expires, is a real possibility.

"We are trying to get as much stuff as possible shoved through," one studio vice-president told Variety. "It's as hot as I've seen it. And whether or not they strike on November 1, we have to act as if they will."

In practice, this means studios are no longer accepting pitches for new projects from writers, limiting themselves to the conclusion of deals on already existing scripts. Two studios, Universal and Warner Brothers, have already told agents not to offer them scripts until the situation is resolved.

Existing projects are also being rushed through to beat the strike. "What I'm hearing from our screenwriters and showrunners is that they're being asked to schedule additional table reads, prepare additional scripts and squeeze in more shows, which may be physically impossible in that amount of time," said WGA West president Patric Verrone.

Until now, Hollywood studios had been preparing themselves for a strike next summer, when the Directors Guild of America (DGA), which represents directors, and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), which defends actors, had threatened to stop work. The threat has sent Hollywood into a frenzy of planning, with many studios reportedly accelerating production of films to avoid gaps in their release schedules.

Some of the films likely to be affected are the next James Bond film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the historial epic Pompeii. The WGA had been expected to join forces with the DGA and the SAG in the summer, rather than on November 1, when its current contract with studios expires. The possible strike is over royalties from sales of movies over the internet and on DVD, which are not covered in the current deal between the various guilds.

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Earlier Story: Dame Judi Dench hints at location shooting for M in Bond 22

Later Story: David Arnold confirmed as Bond 22 composer

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