Ben Affleck isn’t sold on Netflix’s approach to filmmaking. In a recent appearance at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit, Affleck cast doubt on the idea that the streaming giant is able to control the quality of its original content while making hundreds of new movies each year.
“If you ask [Netflix co-CEO and chairman] Reed Hastings…he’d say, ‘Hey, we went for quantity to establish a footprint,’” Affleck said. “I’m sure there’s wisdom in that and I’m sure they had a great strategy, but I would have said, ‘How are we going to make 50 great movies? How is that possible?’ There’s no committee big enough. There aren’t enough — you just can’t do it.”
The actor went on to explain that making movies “is a thing that requires attention and dedication and work and it resists the sort of assembly line process” that he thinks Netflix often employs.
Affleck isn’t calling for Netflix to completely abandon its commercial instincts, and he understands why the streamer relies so heavily on crowd-pleasing blockbuster genres. But he thinks that the company would benefit by taking the time to make higher-quality movies, even if that means that the quantity is reduced.
“There’s a bigger audience for action movies than there is for small dramas. I get that,” he said. “Certain genres play more broadly and you can’t not be mindful of that. But let’s do a good one, let’s surprise the audience, let’s make them care about it.”
Affleck has a unique opportunity to try and rectify what he sees as the problems with streaming, as he and Matt Damon recently launched Artists Equity, a new production company aimed at including artists in streaming revenue sharing.
“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 in a recent interview announcing the company. “Not just writers and directors and stars. But also cinematographers, editors, costume designers, and other crucial artists who, in my view, are very underpaid.”