Hollywood star Ben Affleck warns of a future for cinema where event-based movies are the only option, following the pandemic box office uncertainty.
Ben Affleck has made a bleak prediction for the future of cinema, foretelling of a time where movies will be more expensive and event-based. The 49-year-old Hollywood star has written, directed and acted in huge projects both independent and blockbuster alike. Starting out alongside his college friend and fellow screenwriter Matt Damon, the pair skyrocketed into fame with their Oscar-winning screenplay for Good Will Hunting. On the indie-movie scene, Affleck and Damon also came to prominence alongside Kevin Smith, director of Clerks and Mallrats. Affleck eventually found himself a beloved Hollywood leading man and sometimes action hero. In recent years, he has directed passion projects like Argo and Live by Night, while also dabbling in the tumultuous superhero circuit as the DCEU’s Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a troubling period for struggling theaters. Several failed attempts to reignite the box office across 2020 and 2021 have come and gone, with many smaller projects sent directly to streaming for the last two years. Only the most surefire hits, such as Marvel movies and high-budget blockbusters, have faced the risky prospect of opening in wide-release. Christopher Nolan’s Tenet failed to make a profit early in the pandemic, and it wasn’t until almost 18 months later when 007 flick No Time To Die seemingly confirmed that the box office was back on its feet. Now, with the recent massive success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, it has become increasingly clear what sort of movies will bring audiences back to the cinema seats in a time of uncertainty.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, actor and director Affleck has weighed in with his own concerns. The star predicts movies will become “more expensive, event-sized” affairs, akin to the very biggest of blockbusters. Affleck actor warns that movies are "mostly going to be for younger people,” with the older generations less interested in the modern trends of superheroes and action franchises. Directly referencing the interest in “the Marvel Universe,” Affleck adds that there’ll be “40 movies a year […] all IP, sequel, animated.” Read the actor’s full interview quote below:
"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."
Affleck’s comments aren’t impossible to imagine. His latest reunion with Damon, in Ridley Scott’s medieval drama The Last Duel, was a box office bomb. Scott controversially blamed "millennial" theater audiences for their lack of interest in real, dramatic stories. It has become a fiery trend for auteurs such as Scott to be asked by interviewers about the success of franchises such as the MCU, with Martin Scorsese famously comparing the series to rollercoaster rides. Affleck himself has been on both sides of the debate, though he has spoken out about the negativity surrounding his role as Batman, with the actor eventually walking away from the part following the stressful reshoots of Justice League.
With movie theaters showing less and less independent films, and banking more heavily on the franchises, sequels, reboots and interconnected universes trending in Hollywood, Affleck’s predictions are seemingly valid. Out of the top 10 highest grossing movies of 2021, only one film was not based on a pre-existing IP. That was Fox and Disney’s Ryan Reynolds-led vehicle, Free Guy, which itself was a pastiche parody of several video games. Alongside it in the top 10 there were also six movie sequels, a reboot and four MCU movies. The trend seems to be becoming more and more frequent, with huge event-based movies like Avengers: Endgame and the latest Spider-Man film taking precedent over the traditional stories. Whether Ben Affleck will be proved right, however, remains to be seen, as the earliest movies of 2022 begin to release amid an ongoing pandemic.