Ben Affleck has serious doubts about smaller movies getting big theatrical releases in the future. 2020 has changed the movie business, there is no question about that. Even when things return to normal, it will be a new normal. As Affleck sees it, that new normal will be very franchise-friendly, with only major movies like Star Wars or Marvel titles getting major distribution.

The Oscar-winner has his feet in both camps. Ben Affleck stars as Batman in the DCEU, with the actor set to reprise his role in The Flash, as well as The Snyder Cut of Justice League. But Affleck, as a director, makes mid-budget movies like The Town and Argo, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. During a recent interview, Affleck explained that those movies would look very different in the modern world. Here's what he had to say.

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"Movies like The Town, movies like Argo, all the movies I made would effectively end up on streamers. There will probably be like 20 to 25 movies a year that are distributed and they'll all be big IP movies, whether it's the type of movies that Disney makes like Aladdin or Star Wars or Avengers, something where you can count on the low-end being half a billion dollars worth of business."
"And I think it's going to be very, very difficult for dramas and sort of mid-budget movies like [The Town] to get theatrical distribution. You'll either see massive, massive movies getting huge wide-scale distribution or small movies doing little prestige releases in a few theaters but mostly being shown on streamers. I think that's for better or worse, and you can draw your own conclusions, but that would be my best guess about the direction of the movie business just based on what I'm seeing now and experiences I'm having trying to get stuff made."

Even before movie theaters shut down this year many smaller, original movies were having trouble at the box office. Ben Affleck's The Way Back was one of the last new movies released before the world ground to a halt and it had what could be described as a modest debut. Yet, as Affleck tells it, the drama benefited greatly from its early VOD offering.

"Who knows what the theatrical business will be like. What I think has happened is that people have grown accustomed during this time to watching from home. It benefited The Way Back, for sure. It had just come out so I think the ability to see a new movie at home enabled us to get many more viewers than would have come out to a theater to pay money to see a sad movie about an alcoholic dealing with the death of his child. People have now been acculturated to streaming and watching movies at home in ways they weren't before, which probably accelerated a trend that was already taking place."

Universal Pictures kicked the door open for premium VOD with Trolls World Tour. Generally, the rentals go for $19.99. The success of this model has further dampened the outlook for theaters, which continue to struggle. It is difficult to predict what the business will look like when the dust settles but it is hard to imagine small movies getting a fair shake in theaters.

Meanwhile, even big movies like Tenet and The New Mutants have struggled at the box office as theaters have reopened. For now, we are mostly left with what streaming services have to offer. This news comes to us via Entertainment Weekly.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott