More evidence of an ailing film economy is evidenced in the WGA West’s 2013 earnings report, which shows that employment and earnings for writers of motion pictures declined for the fourth year in a row. Film writers earned $331 million last year, a 7.2% drop from 2012 and down nearly 25% from $437 million in 2009.
The report also shows that only 1,595 writers reported motion picture earnings last year, down 1.9% from 2012. That number also has decreased every year since 2009, when 1,848 guild members found work in the film industry.
Overall, guild members earned slightly more than $1 billion last year, down 6.4% from 2012.
Television continues to be the biggest single source of income for guild members. Last year, they earned $668.5 million writing TV shows, down 6.2% from the record $712.4 million in 2012. TV residuals, however, are booming, and offset an otherwise gloomy earnings report. Last year, guild members received $233.7 million in TV residuals, up a whopping 54.9% over 2012.
The $140 million the guild’s members received in film residuals showed only a 1.1% over 2012.
New media, which covers VOD and the like, generated only $3.6 million in earnings and employed only 120 writers last year.
Film and television earnings by members of the WGA East, a completely separate union, are not included in the report.