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I have heard from a couple good sources that they have a big back log of movies in the can in anticipation of the strike.

Anticipating a strike, I'm sure they accelerated some of their production schedules to get some stuff "in the can." That said, there are only so many "A" and "B" list actors, and it takes a certain amount of time to "shoot", and that all costs money, so it's not like there's some unlimited fountain of money to finance it all.

So the idea that there is a huge "extra" backlog is myth. There is backlog, but there always is. From the time the shooting ends until a movie hits the theaters there is always 6-18 months of post production, special effects, sound, music, etc. So that'll be fine for a while. Sometimes a movie doesn't come out as planned and it is shelved, because the marketeers don't think it will play or match the competition. The idea that there are a bunch of "lesser quality" movies just sitting around gathering dust is another theory for the ashcan, although it is possible that a couple which might not have made it could, assuming the strike goes on a long long time (the last one was 5 months) and the pipeline starts to look thin.

But basically if a movie is ready for the audience, it gets released. It is "scripts" of which there are a bazillion bazillion around, but those won't get shot anyway. I'm not clear if the studios even could, since they are still the work products of WGA members for the most part.

Changing the subject slightly, TV works on a much tighter turnaround, and I'm sure they don't give two hoots about the LA economy. They care about their bottom line, and they are madly developing more reality shows right now. That will help if there is a strike, but more important, the genre "works" and brings in ratings. The networks could fill the time with a bunch of Hollywood Squares clones, but they're not going to do that, they are still driven by the audience tastes.

So, my question is do you think it's likely they will shelf some of the stuff in the can if there is no strike and opt to go forward with different programming?

No, the studios and the networks are still driven by hard headed businessmen (and a few women.) If they have spent money developing (and/or shooting) a pilot or a movie, they will use it if they think it works. They won't if it doesn't. Many concepts are pitched, only a relative few are greenlighted for production. Of those which are, most are eventually seen somewhere, if only to amortize the cost and fill a programming hour. And hey, sometimes the audience actually likes it!

Anyway, long story short, this strike is just like any other. When "Whirlpool" goes on strike, they don't roll out a lot of lousy washers with defects they've had in the back room and say "OK, now we'll sell these", because they know people won't buy them anyway.
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