With the launch of Artist Equity, his new studio with Matt Damon and RedBird Capital Partners, Ben Affleck is hoping to create a production model that stands on the opposite end of Netflix’s onslaught of content. Affleck attended The New York Times’ DealBook Summit on Nov. 30 and said Netflix operates similar to an “assembly line” in how it produces such a massive output.
“If you ask [Netflix co-CEO and chairman] Reed Hastings…he’d say, ‘Hey, we went for quantity to establish a footprint,’” Affleck said. “I’m sure there’s wisdom 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’s no committee big enough. There aren’t enough — you just can’t do it.”
Affleck added that making movies “is a thing that requires attention and dedication and work and it resists the sort of assembly line process” that Netflix has made its standard. He added, “[Netflix’s head of original films] Scott Stuber is a really talented, smart guy who I really like…but it’s an impossible job.”
“There’s bigger audience for action movies than there is for small dramas. I get that,” Affleck said. “Certain genres play more broadly and you can’t not be mindful of that. But let’s do a good one, let’s surprise the audience, let’s make them care about it.”
Affleck was the star of his own Netflix movie thanks to the 2019 action thriller “Triple Frontier,” directed by J.C. Chandor and co-starring Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal.
At Artist Equity, Affleck will serve as CEO while Damon assumes the role of chief content officer. The company’s first project is already in production: a still untitled drama that Affleck wrote and directed about the birth of Nike’s willdy popular Air Jordan sneaker brand. Damon stars as the Nike executive who landed the endorsement deal with Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan. Artists Equity joins Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures as a producer on the film.
Watch Affleck’s full conversation at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit in the video below.