Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are expanding their lifelong creative partnership in a big way. In an interview with the New York Times, the two actors announced the formation of Artists Equity, a new production company aimed at giving artists a larger share of streaming profits.
The company has already raised over $100 million in financing, primarily from the investment firm RedBird Capital Partners. Affleck serves as CEO and Damon as the company’s chief creative officer. Affleck plans to exclusively work on Artists Equity films moving forward, while Damon has pledged to star in an undisclosed number of films for the company. Damon will also do all of his future producing through the label.
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The decision to start the company was prompted by Hollywood’s focus on streaming and the subsequent lack of opportunities for actors and artisans to share box office and syndication profits. Damon and Affleck plan to disrupt that business model by offering top talent a larger percentage of profits in exchange for lower salaries.
“As streamers have proliferated, they have really ended back-end participation, and so this is partly an effort to try to recapture some of that value and share it in a way that’s more equitable,” Affleck said. “Not just writers and directors and stars. But also cinematographers, editors, costume designers and other crucial artists who, in my view, are very underpaid.”
Affleck said that the experience of running a production company has opened his eyes to how difficult the business side of Hollywood can be, but that doesn’t mean he regrets taking the plunge. If anything, he wishes he did it sooner.
“There was part of me, I have to admit, that was like — come on, these studio guys sit behind desks and make phone calls. The artists are the ones who have to go off and actually make the movie and do all the work. I have already been humbled,” he said. “But my only regret is that I didn’t have the sense of self to try this earlier. Now I feel very ready to do it. I’m right at that period of life where you have enough experience and confidence and self-assuredness.”
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