Nov 30, 2022 - Economy & Business

Ben Affleck pitches Artists Equity as "new model" to reward creators

 Ben Affleck attends "The Last Duel" New York Premiere on October 09, 2021 in New York City.

Ben Affleck at the "The Last Duel" New York premiere on Oct. 9, 2021, in New York. Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Ben Affleck said Wednesday that the first project by his and Matt Damon's new production company Artists Equity, an upcoming movie about the Air Jordan brand, aligns with his business's mission.

Why it matters: The Hollywood duo is trying to change how the industry pays film crews, providing fair and equitable compensation to everyone involved while also making movies that are of high quality and have commercial appeal.

Driving the news: "It mirrors many of the themes that we're working with around the way we look at celebrities ... and about compensation and it's about the company having to come to terms with how it's going to compensate," Affleck said during the New York Times DealBook Summit.

Catch up quick: Affleck and Damon announced earlier this month their new company, backed by a minimum of $100 million in financing from RedBird Capital.

Details: "I want to make the second act of my life to create a really meaningful, robust company that develops a new model that tells stories in a different way, prizes artists in a different way, including behind the camera," Affleck said at the DealBook Summit. "I just found the best partner in the world for that."

  • Affleck said that RedBird Capital Partners founder Gerry Cardinale, who he had met 25 years ago, was the first person he thought of when deciding to launch a new production company.
  • Founded in 2014, RedBird has backed Skydance Media, LeBron James' SpringHill Media and the YES Network, which Cardinale helped launch in 2002.
  • "Not a lot of actors come my way because they're too scared," Cardinale said. "This is very familiar territory to me, Ben and Matt. They are entrepreneurs."

The big picture: The streaming era pushed a big demand for content that is now adapting to market pressures. The first wave of streaming, Cardinale said, was about volume, whereas now it's about quality.

  • "Technologies and the disintermediation created some wonderful things. It's a great democratizer," Cardinale said. "We embrace it. Being independently capitalized enables us to go through those cracks and help be a catalyst for this evolution."
  • "My whole career I've been chasing that saying, 'Content is king.' I think today is the first time I'm starting to see the possibilities," Cardinale said.
  • When it comes to the theatrical model, Affleck spoke about how he saw the power of streaming when his movie "The Way Back" premiered in March 2020. It struggled in theaters, given the pandemic leading to closures, but then shined on streaming.
  • "Different platforms are suitable for different entertainment," Affleck said. "We're going to have to be flexible and adapt."

What to watch: Artists Equity previously said it plans to release three projects in 2023.

Of note: Affleck said he doesn't scroll on social media. "I just don't want to see myself come up, like, dropping a box of donuts," he said.

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