Swimming with the Stream

June 3, 2024Article
Los Angeles Lawyer

Entertainment attorneys Brandon Milostan and Graham Fenton authored "Swimming with the Stream" in Los Angeles Lawyer.


Ready to feel old? If Bart Simpson were real, he would be three years away from AARP eligibility, and the primary time period in Back to the Future is about as close to World War II as it is to today. Moreover, it has been nearly 17 years since Netflix launched its streaming platform and started the biggest Hollywood “back-end” profit participation revolution since Lew Wasserman’s famed net profits deal for “Golden Age” star Jimmy Stewart. Despite still being viewed by some as an avant-garde, flash-in-the-pan exploitation medium and traditional broadcast boogeyman, exhibition via streaming already occupies 15-20 percent of the entire history of film and TV (depending on when the count starts), with no meaningful response from Hollywood to the back-end paradigm shift that Netflix and other streamers ushered in. That all changed in late 2023 when Hollywood responded as the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the Writers Guild of America (WGA), and Directors Guild of America (DGA) were each able to negotiate success-based streaming bonuses for actors, writers, and directors of made-for-streaming projects, a contrast to the back-end structure (or lack thereof) that has come to dominate the direct-to-streaming market, one that may crack open a door that agents, managers, and attorneys can now kick down.