Blue Beetle director Angel Manuel Soto recently claimed that the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes “affect disproportionately to minorities.”
Speaking with TheWrap while promoting the film, Soto discussed what it was like to promote the film without the film’s actors due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
First, he stated, “It’s unfortunate that the strike happened right before we started promoting the movie. Of course, everybody would love for it to happen after the movie premieres, so that at least our actors have the time to shine and to be celebrated and see how most people are connecting with their stories.”
He added, “A lot of these young kids that are watching the movie see themselves represented in them [the characters] because it’s a beautiful experience I’ve been able to witness.”
Soto then went on to declare the strikes are somehow disproportionately affecting minorities, “We all can agree that [the strikes] affect disproportionately to minorities.”
He does not elaborate on how this is the case, but made sure to note that he’s not trying to target the unions, but rather he stands in solidarity with them, “At the same time, I have nothing [but] respect and support for my actors who are fighting the good fight, and our writer too. They’re fighting the good fight for better pay, for better treatment, so that the money is better distributed between the people [who] are creating this content.”
While Soto claims that the strikes are disproportionately affecting minorities without providing any evidence for his claims, it’s possible that the reverse is actually true, at least if you use the definition of minority as non-white as it it typically used in the United States.
The reason for it possibly being the reverse is that numerous studios are actually going outside of the United States for scripted content. To that point, Amazon’s head of scripted originals in Italy Davide Nardini said during a panel session titled “Spotlight on Amazon” at the Audiovisual Producers Summit in Trieste, “My personal opinion is new international projects will have the opportunity to circulate because the strike has imposed a stop, so this entails some sort of gaps that can be filled by international projects.”
Nardini clarified, “If this is going to last for some time, then there is some room for local projects. This my personal opinion, I’m not speaking on behalf of Amazon.”
At least one streamer has already made a big bet on foreign-produced productions and it’s not just in the scripted format. Netflix Japan Content Manager Dai Ota recently shared in a press release how the company is working on 15 Japanese unscripted titles.
Along with detailing a number of these titles, Ota stated, “This is just the beginning. We will continue to pursue fresh ideas across genres, delivering a diverse variety of unscripted content all uniquely crafted for our Japanese audiences locally. As the landscape of unscripted television evolves, we are committed to being the go-to destination for immersive, authentic and must-watch unscripted experiences.”
In fact, investing in Japan has been a long-term strategy for Netflix. Going back to 2021, Netflix announced in a press release, ” Betting big on Japanese content and storytelling, Netflix today celebrated an ambitious slate of projects and collaborations with top local creators and talent at the Netflix Japan Festival 2021, proudly expanding on the slate of 90 Japanese Netflix titles already available to date.”
The press release added, “Entertaining both audiences in Japan, which continues to be one of the most important countries for the growth of Netflix, as well as fans of Japanese culture around the world, Netflix is committed to bringing best in class stories and creators from Japan to audiences everywhere.”
Netflix Japan Vice President Kaata Sakamoto made it clear what the company’s goals were, “Our next big bet is expanding feature films. Japan is home to extraordinary talent who shape the cinematic history of the world. With creators as diverse as the ones we work with today, we’re excited to play a role in the history of great local talent finding their voices and delivering them to audiences everywhere.”
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Not only is Netflix investing in Japan, but they are also investing heavily in South Korea. The company’s CEO Ted Sarandos announced in April, “Netflix is delighted to confirm that we will invest USD 2.5 billion in Korea including the creation of Korean series, films, and unscripted shows over the next four years. The investment plan is about twice the total investment Netflix has announced since we started our service in Korea in 2016.”
Sarandos added, “We were able to make this decision because we have great confidence that the Korean creative industry will continue to tell great stories. We were also inspired by the President’s love and strong support for the Korean entertainment industry and fueling the Korean wave.”
What do you make of Soto’s comments that the strike is disproportionately affecting minorities?