It’s safe to say that Ben Affleck, an Oscar-winning polymath who’s worked as a director/actor/writer/producer, knows a thing or two about producing movies. And during a recent roundtable discussion, he had some strong praise for fellow film producer Kevin Feige, calling him the “greatest” and “most successful producer who’s ever lived.”
During a conversation on THR’s Awards Chatter podcast (via Collider), Affleck, former Daredevil star and the world’s once and future Batman, had this to say about his Daredevil co-worker:
“Kevin Feige, who is the — [I] have to say — the greatest producer, most successful producer who’s ever lived. He’s the only guy in the world who if he told me like, ‘I know what the audience wants. This is what we’re doing,’ I would believe him 100%. That fucker knows his audience like no producer – he’s a genius. He’s like a master ringmaster. He knows exactly how much to wink at the audience, exactly when to pull at the heartstrings, exactly when to do VFX, how many jokes, what the sensibility, what the tone is. Because people didn’t know if they should run away from the pajamas or embrace it or make it serious.”
Here’s the thing about Affleck’s statement: much of that is obviously correct. Feige is a genius producer who has already made his mark on Hollywood, and he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. But his assertion that Feige is the “greatest” and “most successful” producer of all time is slightly more contentious. Because of the history of how box office receipts have been reported and how tough it can be to adjust hundreds of film grosses at a time for inflation, this claim isn’t as cut and dry as you might think.
Sure, Feige is unquestionably the most successful modern producer at the worldwide box office: his movies have made more than $22 billion globally, topping people like Kathleen Kennedy (Jurassic Park, the recent Star Wars films), David Heymen (all of the Harry Potter movies), Jerry Bruckheimer (the Pirates of the Caribbean films, tons of action films), and Neal H. Moritz (the Fast & Furious franchise).
But how about compared to the titans of yore, like David O. Selznick, who produced Gone with the Wind and A Star is Born and Rebecca? Or Darryl F. Zanuck, or Irving Thalberg, or Samuel Goldwyn, or a half-dozen other names from Hollywood’s Golden Era? You can see how the comparison becomes a bit tricker to navigate.
There’s a whole other conversation that could be had about the nature of “greatness” as a producer and what that might mean to different people. Is Kevin Feige the greatest producer ever? He’s undoubtedly the puppet master of Marvel Studios, but is there enough variety in his career for him to deserve that “greatness” badge? Since I’m on the clock and don’t have time to launch into a huge tangent, I’ll leave that to the commenters to hash out.
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