The coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the movie industry for years to come, and Ben Affleck thinks it’s going to be a deep one.
Throughout the pandemic, movie theaters were hit extremely hard due to mandates on gathering indoors and studios moving film release dates. Now, as things return to some form of normalcy as we knew it, movie theaters aren’t recovering all that quick, Ben Affleck has some thoughts on that.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly about his career, the actor was asked about how The Last Duel failed at the box office and succeeded in digital sales. “Did COVID just accelerate something that was going to take 10 or 15 years, or is it coming back?” Affleck replied, “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. 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.”
He went on to add, “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. 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.””
If the last few months have taught us anything, superhero films appear to be bulletproof at the theater as evidenced by Spider-Man: No Way Home. But mid-budget dramas and the like have been struggling tremendously to find an audience. This is not going to be a sustainable model for movie studios going forward, and with nearly all of them having a streaming service to feed content to, we’re going to see more and more content heading that way.
Will the movie industry ever return to the likes of every weekend having multiple releases? Only time will answer that, but for now it’s looking like those days may indeed be behind us.