Ben Affleck says his new studio Artists Equity, in partnership with Matt Damon, is looking for movies that are commercial but smart, that acknowledge popular tastes but that “people will remember 20 years later.”
You think/hope that your latest project, due out next year, meets the requirements. Affleck directs, Damon stars in the true story behind the creation of the iconic Air Jordan brand set to launch in 2023 in association with Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures. Artists Equity anticipates launching three projects next year, with plans to scale up to as low as five per year in the future.
“I don’t see any difference between commercial and quality,” Affleck said during a lengthy question-and-answer session at The New York Times DealBook Summit in New York alongside Artists Equity investment partner Gerry Cardinale of Redbird Capital.
Quality takes time. “If you ask Reed Hastings…I’m sure there’s some risk in that, and I’m sure they had a great strategy, but I would have said, ‘How are we going to make 50 great movies? How is that possible? There is not a committee big enough. There aren’t enough of them, you just can’t do it. It is something that requires attention, dedication and work and endures the assembly line process. Scott Stuber is a very talented and smart guy who I really like… but it’s an impossible job,” Affleck said, referring to the founder and co-CEO of the streaming giant and his head of original films.
“There is a bigger audience for action movies than small dramas, I get it. Certain genres play more widely and you can’t help but be aware of that. But let’s do a good one, let’s surprise the audience, let’s make them care,” she added.
“The first wave of transmission was all about volume,” Cardinale said. “The second wave has to do with quality.”
The couple joined an eclectic roster at the day-long event that will feature Hastings executives and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, along with video Q&As with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX.
Affleck, Damon and Cardinale, founder and managing partner of Redbird, formally announced the launch of their artist-led studio earlier this month, planning to partner with filmmakers to empower creative vision and expand access to profit sharing through of “business partnerships” with filmmakers.
Michael Joe, former COO of STX Films and former Executive Vice President of Universal Pictures, is the COO.
Its founders called Artists Equity an intellectual property monetization platform anchored on three basic principles: expanding access to profit sharing; boost monetization of IP through creator associations; and take advantage of a data-driven distribution approach.