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Can I Still Watch Movies and TV During the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strike?

Stock image of people watching a movie in a theater

The Take

  • Two Hollywood unions are on strike during a standoff with the major studios over payments, residuals, streaming, and artificial intelligence.
  • The strikes come as Hollywood enters the all-important summer blockbuster window with Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One screening in theaters.
  • Numerous productions have shut down, and studios are delaying release dates because of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
  • The SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike began because many writers and actors could not afford rent and health insurance while the studios reported record profits.

The Writer’s Guild has been on strike since May, and Hollywood actors, through their union SAG-AFTRA, joined them on the picket lines last week. While actors and writers are not working on film and TV sets and are not allowed to engage in publicity for any of their work, can you still watch their new movies and TV shows without crossing the picket line?

The short answer is yes. The unions have not called for a boycott of films in theaters or on streaming services, so you are free to watch all the available content to your heart’s content. Just remember that the studios are not fairly compensating writers and actors for their work—especially on streaming services.

The unions have not called for a boycott of theaters or streaming services while on strike. In fact, continuing to go to the movies, subscribe to streaming services, and consume TV shows and films provides more bargaining power to the unions because it increases the revenue the studios make on their work.

Can I go to the movie theater during the strike?

With movies like Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One in theaters, you’re probably wondering if you can cross that picket line. Good news: There is no picket line!

Movie theaters are still struggling after the COVID-19 pandemic and need all the help we can give them. Do not boycott movie theaters during the strike, as the guilds have not called for that.

Buy a ticket at your local theater, enjoy the Barbenheimer experience, and immerse yourself in the movies.

Is it wrong to use Netflix during the strike?

Even though the streaming service is one of the bad guys in the strike, the unions do not want you to cancel your Netflix subscription. If you enjoy the content you’re watching, keep watching! Your views give unions the power to advocate for higher revenue stakes and residuals.

Some union members have said canceling subscription services could play into the studios’ hands and lead them to lowball the unions when they return to the negotiating table.

Netflix recently reported huge gains in subscribers, which proves that viewers are not leaving the service during the strike. If only Netflix would distribute some of that added revenue to the writers and actors who make their service possible.

What is the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike about?’s Eric Chiu compiled an excellent guide for understanding the dual strikes. The fundamental issues revolve around residuals, revenue sharing, employment opportunities, and artificial intelligence.

The unions decided to strike after negotiating with the studios (through the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP) and not reaching a new deal. The writers have been on strike since May, and the actors just finished their first full week on strike. Both sides are prepared to continue striking for as long as it takes to reach a fair deal.

And expect to wait a long time for more episodes of your favorite TV show and the next blockbuster release. The strikes have shut down over 75 productions globally. Check out our  WGA strike guide and SAG-AFTRA strike guide, and look to see if the strikes impact your favorites.

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