The pandemic hasn't been kind to the box office. With the exception of Spider-Man: No Way Home, most other movies released have seen below-average numbers, with the highest-grossing flicks typically being based on corporate-owned intellectual property. In a new chat between Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that's surfaced online courtesy of EW, the former says the box office will soon largely be reserved for Marvel movies and other studios that happen to be sitting on well-known IP.
"I will say, when The Way Back came out, it was released the week they closed the theaters [for the pandemic]. But even before then I knew this movie about grief and a child dying and alcoholism and recovery is just not going to get adults in the seats," Affleck told his long-time collaborator. "We were just talking about Narcos: Mexico, Succession, Mare of Easttown. There's these amazing things being done on streamers. Roma! It's not just some formulaic TV procedural like when we were kids. And you could only watch it like my dad, on an 11-inch black-and-white TV."
The former Batman star went on to say even movies like his Oscar-winning Argo likely wouldn't be able to cut it at the box office in this day, instead suggesting it likely would have been turned into a limited series to use on streaming.
"If I had to bet, a drama like Argo would not be made theatrically now. That wasn't that long ago. It would be a limited series. I think movies in theaters are going to become more expensive, event-ized," the actor added. "They're mostly going to be for younger people, and mostly about 'Hey, I'm so into the Marvel Universe, I can't wait to see what happens next.' And there'll be 40 movies a year theatrically, probably, all IP, sequel, animated."
While Affleck admitted it took him a while to throw in the towel, his latest project sealed the deal. Ridley Scott's The Last Duel grossed just $30.6 million at the domestic box office.
"The Last Duel really clinched it for me. I've had bad movies that didn't work and I didn't blink. I know why people didn't go — because they weren't good," he concluded. "But I liked what we did. I like what we had to say. I'm really proud of it. So I was really confused. And then to see that it did well on streaming, I thought, 'Well, there you go. That's where the audience is.'"