Ben Affleck, Matt Damon’s ‘AIR’ Scores 2023 Global Theatrical Release
The sports marketing drama about Nike’s game-changing early days is backed by Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures. It’s also the first project from Affleck and Matt Damon’s Artists Equity.
Plans for a global theatrical rollout are significant in signaling that Amazon is willing to give a movie a traditional release in cinemas. Amazon will handle AIR in North America, while Warner Bros. International has overseas duties per its distribution pact with MGM. The film’s release date on Prime hasn’t yet been announced.
“Ben, Matt and this all-star cast have delivered a fantastic film that will move, inspire and entertain audiences around the globe,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon and MGM Studios, said in a statement. “With Ben’s incredible direction, the film delivers a nostalgic look back at a culture-defining moment that absolutely lends itself to a global theatrical event.”
Added Affleck: “Matt and I are very excited for audiences to see AIR and proud that it’s the first release from Artists Equity. The movie was an extraordinary experience where we had the honor of working with some of the best cast and crew in the business, all of whom brought passion, persistence and creativity to a collective effort at recreating a remarkable and aspirational story.”
Affleck also gave a shout-out to the companies backing the film, as well as to Salke and newly minted Amazon Studios marketing head Sue Kroll, whom he worked with at Warner Bros. on his Oscar-winning Argo, among other titles. “We value the steps it took on each of their parts to make it happen and want to thank them. This was the best creative and personal experience of our lives and we look forward to many more like it,” he said.
Damon portrays former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro, while Affleck plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight in a story around Nike’s long-shot effort to sign rising superstar basketball player Michael Jordan to a shoe contract in the mid-’80s, an endorsement that seemed impossible at the time but, thanks to the maverick sneaker salesman, would become the most significant relationship between an athletic brand and an athlete ever, launching the global, multibillion-dollar contemporary sneaker industry.
The cast also includes Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Gustaf Skarsgård and Julius Tennon.
The project marks the first time Affleck will direct a feature starring his longtime pal, Damon. The two famously won an Oscar for writing the script to Good Will Hunting, which starred Damon and had Affleck in a supporting role and was directed by Gus Van Sant. The pair also reunited last year for The Last Duel, directed by Ridley Scott, with Damon again starring and Affleck in a supporting role.
With a script penned by Alex Convery, AIR is produced by David Ellison, Jesse Sisgold, Jon Weinbach, Affleck, Damon, Madison Ainley, Jeff Robinov, Peter Guber and Jason Michael Berman. Executive producers include Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Kevin Halloran, Michael Joe, Drew Vinton, John Graham, Peter E. Strauss and Jordan Moldo.
AIR is the first major feature from David Ellison’s newly minted Skydance Sports division. Skydance already has a tie to the sports world through its investor RedBird Capital.