Anthony Mackie may be the star of one of the biggest franchises in the world, but he’s probably on your computer screen (or if you’re really fancy, your television via a streaming device) more often than he’s on the silver screen. Many actors, once they make it big, are reluctant to go back to TV or streaming unless it’s a big prestige project. But in the past year, Mackie has appeared in a Black Mirror episode on Netflix, the Netflix Joe Lynch action thriller Point Blank, and he will soon be starring in the new season of Netflix’s Altered Carbon. It’s all intentional, Mackie says.
As big event films take over the movie theaters, mid-budget filmmakers have taken to television or streaming services to make the films they want to make, but won’t get financed by a studio too nervous to go up against the Disney behemoth. With Martin Scorsese gushing about his experience making The Irishman with Netflix, it seems like more auteurs will flock to the service, which already has new films by Spike Lee, David Fincher, and Charlie Kaufman coming later this year. And Mackie is taking note, telling The Daily Beast in a new interview, “To be frank about it, filmmakers don’t work in film anymore.” He added:
“If we look at the movies we grew up loving, that we think are the best movies of all time, those movies won’t be made now by studios; they’ll be made by streaming services. So if your movie isn’t an event—if you’re not in ‘Avengers’ or ‘Suicide Squad’ or ‘Star Wars’—it’s very hard to get people to go to the movie theater, for many different reasons. Fear factor, cost. I have kids, and for me to take my kids to the movies, it’s $115. So we watch movies at home. As soon as Fortune 500 companies bought all the film studios, the idea of making films was dead. So that being said, the only place you can go and work with the filmmakers you adore is streaming services.”
One such filmmaker that Mackie wishes to work with is David O. Russell, but the actor says that even an Academy Award-nominated director like Russell isn’t guaranteed a green light from a studio. “You can’t go to a studio and say, ‘Give me $20 million, I want to make this small movie,’ because they’re not going to do it,” Mackie said. “Either you can make a movie for $2 million or for $100 million. It’s the worst business model of all time.”
Still, Mackie maintains that “great movies are being made, they’re just not being made for the theaters, because young people don’t want to sit in a room and chill out. They want to move, and watch it on their cell phones and tablets. They can’t sit still; it’s a different world now.”
Mackie is not wrong, and the actor seems eager to get ahead of the curve, getting his foot in the streaming door before other actors get wise to it (while, of course, getting that Disney paycheck with an upcoming appearance in Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier). But while Mackie approaches it from a practical point of view, his assertion that auteur-driven mid-budget movies are disappearing from theaters, is still a little depressing.
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