Have you ever scrolled through a streaming service, desperate for a film to watch that isn’t too massive, and isn’t too obscure? Matt Damon, the multi-Oscar nominated actor behind some of the best movies of all time, can relate. And, he’s also explained why you might be getting frustrated too.
Comments from Damon, which he made during a Hot Ones interview in 2021, have resurfaced and reignited interest in the topic of the mid-budget movie. In between mouthfuls of very spicy chicken wings, the actor shared his belief that mid-budget projects were no longer being greenlit as frequently as in previous decades, because of the rise of streaming platforms.
Specifically, he cited the decline of the DVD as a big factor in the change, saying that: “The DVD was a huge part of our revenue stream, and technology has made that obsolete. So, the movies that we used to make, you could afford to not make all your money when it played in the theatre because you knew you had the DVD coming behind the release, and six months later you’d get a whole ‘nother chunk. It would be like reopening the movie.”
He continued, explaining, “a $25 million movie would have to make 100 million dollars before [going into] profit. And the idea of making 100 million dollars [on a mid-budget movie]. It’s suddenly a massive gamble in a way that it wasn’t in the 1990s.”
When these types of movies are no longer profitable, or sure to recoup their costs, they’re significantly less likely to ever get made. Even a film like action movie The Bourne Identity, which kicked off a long-lived series, was only made against a reported production budget of $60 million. Or, to put that into perspective, just over a quarter of the budget of some of the larger MCU movies, Star Wars movies, and DC movies.
However, while it might be struggling, the mid-budget movie isn’t dead just yet. The recent release of horror movie The Black Phone was a huge success, against a small budget by modern standards. So, there is still a market for the type of movie that might not have a huge cast of stars, or ridiculously sophisticated visual effects.
But, it is becoming more of a challenge, and as streaming continues to shake up the filmmaking landscape, it’s a challenge that movie makers are going to have to continue to contend with for the near future.
Craving the kind of movies that Matt Damon is longing for, too? Check out our guide to the best ‘90s movies, and scratch that itch