Ben Affleck and Matt Damon unveil Artists Equity to spread the wealth
The Future. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have closed up shop on their long-running Pearl Street Films (which had a deal at Warner Bros.) and are launching a new studio called Artists Equity. The goal is to be a United Artists of the modern age — an artist-driven studio giving collaborators creative freedom and a share of financial success. Once the company gets up and running, it could be a key player in realigning creatives’ pay with the gains generated by Hollywood’s push into streaming.
Rich in friendship… and money
Ben and Matt have had a lot of success in Hollywood and now want other creatives to share in that success.
- According to NYT, Affleck will take on the role of CEO, and Damon will be the Chief Creative Officer of their newly formed company, Artists Equity.
- Artists Equity will give filmmakers creative freedom and mint “entrepreneurial partnerships” with every creative involved in a project (more on that in a second).
- In addition to investing some of their own money, Affleck and Damon have raised at least $100 million for the new venture from RedBird Capital Partners (which has also invested in Artists Equity and LeBron James’ SpringHill).
- Affleck said his work moving forward as a writer, director, actor, and producer will be exclusively through the company, while Damon has committed to star in several films.
The company plans to release three films next year and scale up to five annually. First up is a feature about the creation of the Air Jordan brand for Amazon Prime, written by Affleck and Damon (with Adam Convery) and directed by Affleck. That project debuts next year.
United Artists 2.0
Let’s get back to those “entrepreneurial partnerships.” One of the core tenants that Affleck and Damon said would drive the company is the promise to “provide performance-based incentives to creators and crew that allow all participants in the production value chain to share in profits.”
Practically, that means creatives — everyone from writers to costume designers — would potentially get a lower up-front fee in exchange for big payouts if the project is successful. It’s a similar model to Blumhouse (which is undergoing its own power merger) that has made some writers and directors very rich.
The key differentiating factor is that Affleck and Damon know that streaming has, in Damon’s words, “intrinsically changed” the industry (no box office bonuses, no syndication, little residuals). How to measure success is a bit of a black box — one that the team is keen to break into and extract what everyone’s truly worth.