With great power comes great responsibility. As we all know, that quote comes from a certain web-slinging Marvel superhero, but I hope Uncle Ben won’t mind if I use it to describe Anthony Mackie, gifted Captain America’s shield at the end of Avengers: Endgame, currently starring in the new season of Netflix’s Altered Carbon, and with Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on the way. Mackie and his characters now have a lot of power — and judging by some very reasoned, insightful, and incisive comments made to the Daily Beast, he’s wielding his responsibility like a shield and sword.
The aforementioned Avengers: Endgame was arguably the biggest film of the 2010s, from inarguably the biggest studio in the world: Disney, a mega-company that keeps swallowing other companies in its wake. Mackie, technically, is on the Disney payroll. But that doesn’t stop him from speaking truth to power vis-a-vis the changing landscapes such borderline monopolization of content results in. While speaking about his new foray into streaming content, Mackie had this to say:
To be frank about it, filmmakers don’t work in film anymore. 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.
Wow! Mackie is calling out the Fortune 500 companies making megacorporations happen — including his own bosses at Disney, including the movies they make that he’s in! — and drawing a direct line to the lack of quality theatrical cinema as a result. Mackie reveals himself to be quite the cinefile in this piece, saying he’d love to work with auteurs like David O. Russell one day, “but 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. Either you can make a movie for $2 million or for $100 million. It’s the worst business model of all time. There’s definitely a way to make money in movies. But everyone in movies has no idea how to make money.” Shots! Friggin’! Fired!
And it ain’t just the money from the creators that’s an issue with our current mediascape. Mackie also points to the relative costs for customers looking for a night at the movies, whether at the theater or their couch:
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. We had time, because we didn’t have cell phones. We could sit in a movie theater and make out with a girl and eat popcorn. But dudes don’t do that anymore. You can do that virtually now; you don’t have to hide in a movie theater. And if you take a girl to a movie theater now, it’s $20 for each ticket, and she’s going to want popcorn and nachos, and then you add two sodas, and you’re out $70 and you haven’t even gotten in the theater yet. We used to go to the dollar show in New Orleans, and you’d get popcorn for $5, soda for $2.50, you’re out-of-pocket $10! So now you can pay $7 [for streaming], or you go on two dates a month, and that’s $150 just to see a movie.
I’m happy that Mackie mentions that great stuff is still being made (especially in an era of Marriage Story and The Irishman), and I’m more than happy Mackie frames these observations of change as a potential net positive: “We’re looking at the dawn of a new age. When our grandparents used to say, ‘Turn off that devil’s music, nobody’s going to listen to that, it’s going to be dead in 10 years,’ we’re now in that age from rock ‘n’ roll to hip-hop. We’re in the fast-paced generation where the younger generation is spending and being heard, and we’re the old fogies. We’re the ones who sit on the couch and complain about what these youngsters are doing, and the youngsters are out there changing the world.” Mackie: Keep saying stuff like this, and you just might change the world, too.