Hollywood Execs Call Industry Job Cuts ‘Full-Scale Depression’

Photo by Ahmet Yalçınkaya on Unsplash

Hollywood Execs Call Industry Job Cuts ‘Full-Scale Depression’

By Movieguide® Contributor

Deadline recently discovered that Hollywood executives aren’t bonding over scripts and movie successes but over job losses and pay cuts.

“LinkedIn is usually used by professionals for networking with people in their field, posting updates when they get a new job or congratulating friends on their promotions,” Deadline said.

“These days, as one former industry type put it, ‘It’s become a therapy site for unemployed entertainment executives’ who share their frustrations over the lack of opportunities in Hollywood amid a major contraction,” Deadline continued.

In 2023, many layoffs occurred at major Hollywood studios, such as Disney, MGM, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Netflix and others.

“I’ve seen lots of downturns, lots of job losses but I’ve never seen anything like this,” one veteran top TV executive said, per Deadline. “This is a full-scale depression for the entertainment industry.”

“The dire situation,” Deadline continued, “’bordering on worst-case scenario,’ the seasoned TV executive said, was created by a perfect storm of Covid, strikes and ‘poor management decisions coming home to roost’ driven by short-sighted moves by media companies aimed at goosing their quarterly reports to appease Wall Street.”

Disgruntled LinkedIn members claim they’ve sent hundreds of applications only to be rejected or ignored.

“I have certainly an influx of executives that reach out and say they’re looking for their next [job],” said Hollywood executive recruiter Jamie Waldron, Senior Partner, Global Head of Sports, Media + Entertainment, at Modern Executive Solutions.

“There is no doubt a contraction,” he continued. “It just makes it tough in the short term I feel like, with a lot of good executives. I can’t meet everybody that wants to meet to talk about that they’re about to be unemployed or this layoffs now happening.”

He says that some are okay with the break and are taking advantage of it to spend time with family. Others feel terrified.

Waldron’s father and WGA member said he was “looking at the fear and listening to all the stories of the writers and actors that are losing their houses.”

“What was kind of lost in the story was executives were doing the same thing, executives that were laid off were losing their houses and the private school tuition for their kids, and those jobs didn’t come back because either the contraction of the industry, or they’re waiting for them to come back,” he said.

A former top executive source told Deadline that the Hollywood contraction causes executives to go for much lower-paying jobs.

“The morale is low,” another former TV executive said. “People feel overworked and under-appreciated and those who were there for the hayday of the industry feel like the glory days, the fun and glamor of showbiz, are no longer there.”

The recent happenings in Hollywood and TV production have affected many other workers besides executives.

“There are a lot of stories about actors and crews having trouble finding consistent work because of the slow ramp-up of new productions,” said Kevin Klowden, Milken Institute economic executive director.

Movieguide® reported in December that Hollywood employment went down more than 15%:

“The recent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes caused a major rupture in Hollywood, but they represented an expression of underlying changes that have been shaping the industry for the past decades,” a study from the Otis College of Art and Design said. “Many insiders believe that these changes will continue in the coming years, further transforming the industry’s core business model and its relationship to its workers.”

This long-coming change centers around Wall Street’s unwillingness to continue to fund unprofitable streaming platforms. This has resulted in a downsizing of the industry, which has already begun to manifest itself across Hollywood.

“From May 2023 (when the Writer’s Guild first took strike action) to October 2023, there was a 17% drop in the number of workers employed in the Entertainment Industry in Greater Los Angeles,” the study revealed, and those jobs are not soon to return.

“It’s not even remotely coming back,” one former TV executive said.

Deadline reported that another exec thinks differently: “’After larger layoffs and austerity measures, it always goes back. Historically at every company, two years later, they are larger than they were going in,’ the person said, underscoring that up until now, the volume of TV content had steadily increased, fueled by the expansion of original programming in cable and then streaming. ‘Studios go back to being bigger than they were before the layoffs in 2-3 years because it’s been a growth industry.’”

However, some say that “Peak TV’s” reign is over. English-scripted series dropped by 12% in 2022, and future projections estimate that drop to increase rapidly.

Waldron believes execs will get hired again in the last half of this year.

“I think that, at least what I’m hearing and seeing in talking with different clients is, Q1 — and we’re almost in Q2 — is kind of absorbing what just happened with the strikes and implications, the contraction of things. I think by Q3 and Q4, we’ll start to see a more aggressive approach into hiring execs again,” he said.

The Hollywood Reporter found a recent study about how artificial intelligence hugely impacts job cuts.

“Over the next three years, [the study] estimates that nearly 204,000 positions will be adversely affected,” The Hollywood Reporter said.

“According to the study, over two-thirds of firms in Hollywood are considered early adopters of the tech. Roughly a third of respondents surveyed predicted that AI will displace sound editors, 3D modelers, rerecording mixers, and audio and video technicians within three years, while a quarter said that sound designers, compositors and graphic designers are likely to be affected,” The Hollywood Reporter said.

The study estimates that by 2026, more than 20% of Hollywood jobs will be cut.

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