In recent years, subscription streaming services have decided to produce feature films—sometimes for theatrical release and sometimes for use solely on their streaming services. This has become a new job market for screenwriters. The Guild has reviewed several hundred screen deals with Netflix and Amazon from 2018 through early 2021 to assess going rates for work. While the work is similar to feature jobs for traditional studios, there are some important differences to be aware of when taking a feature job with a streamer.

Screenplays

The most important difference to note is that overwhelmingly, screenplay deals with Netflix and Amazon include multiple guaranteed steps. Ninety percent of deals were multi-step; on average, deals included 2 guaranteed steps with some up to 5 guaranteed steps. Keep this in mind when you are making a deal with a streamer.

Across both services, the median guaranteed total compensation for a screenplay deal was $325,000, with a maximum of $2.25 million. This is higher than the first draft median for traditional studios of $293,750 for a one-step deal or $262,500 for multiple guaranteed steps. (ICYMI: Check out the Screen Compensation Guide)

Streaming Rates
Median Maximum Reported
$325,000 $2,250,000

When working for a streaming service, negotiating a higher upfront fee is important because the streamers may not distribute the movie across all the traditional reuse markets like home video and pay TV, basic cable and free television, which means writers of these films are likely to see less in residuals than a traditional studio film.

When comparing the two streamers, Netflix pays notably more than Amazon for these screenplay deals, with median total guaranteed compensation of $375,000 versus $300,000 at Amazon. Almost a quarter of these deals begin with a treatment, more commonly at Netflix.

Streamer Median Maximum Reported
Amazon $300,000 $1,000,000
Netflix $375,000 $2,250,000

Breaking these deals down based on a writer’s screen credits shows a $200,000 premium for writers with two or more screen credits as compared to those writers with no screen credits. While writers without screen credits may have worked in television or on other screen projects that haven’t been produced or where they were not credited, the number of screen credits offers a proxy for experience level. Writers with no prior screen credits earned a median of $250,000 in total guaranteed compensation, with a maximum reported compensation of $1 million. Writers with two or more screen credits, on the other hand, had median compensation of $450,000 and maximum reported compensation of $2.25 million.

Experience Level Median Maximum Reported
Members with 0 credits $250,000 $1,000,000
Members with 1+ credits $400,000 $2,250,000
Members with 2+ credits $450,000 $2,250,000

Rewrites

As at traditional studios, rewrites are the second-most common type of screen deal, and are most frequently contracted as one-step deals. The median across both services for a one-step rewrite at the streamers is slightly lower than the studio median of $150,000 and the maximum was $1.35 million.

Streaming Rates
Median Maximum Reported
$125,000 $1,350,000

The majority of these rewrite deals were at Netflix, where median compensation is the same as at traditional studios. Amazon, which has thus far been somewhat less active in the theatrical space compared to Netflix, is more focused on contracting first drafts. The median for a one-step rewrite at Amazon, which is based on a limited number of contracts, is $105,000.

Streamer Median Maximum Reported
Amazon $105,000 $300,000
Netflix $150,000 $1,350,000

As with screenplays, rewrite compensation increases with experience level. Writers without a screen credit had median compensation of $95,000, with a maximum reported amount of $350,000. Writers with one or more credits had median compensation of $250,000 for a one-step rewrite.

Experience Level Median Maximum Reported
Members with 0 credits $95,000 $350,000
Members with 1+ credits $250,000 $1,350,000

The Guild is committed to using the information we collect with our franchised agency partners to defend and raise writer pay, and to assess individual compensation in key markets like streaming theatricals. The Guild will continue to develop materials about individual writer compensation as we receive more information from the agencies. If you aren’t represented by an agency, please remember to submit your contracts directly to the Guild.

Have questions or feedback about this information? Please contact the WGAW’s Research Department.