Joe Russo, best known for his collaborations with brother Anthony on Marvel blockbusters Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, spoke today about moving outside of the studio system with the formation of his indie company AGBO, and the future of the theatrical biz in the streaming era.
Appearing in-person during the Rome Film Festival’s MIA Market, Russo told Skybound Entertainment’s Sean Mackiewicz that he isn’t anticipating a comeback for indie movies at the cinema, and instead he expects the future of such content to be in the digital space.
“I don’t see a resurgence of independent movies at theaters, I just don’t,” the producer asserted. “You get more money to make them digitally. It’s the easiest thing for Netflix to greenlight and nobody really bothers you [creatively]. Movies are going to evolve, I’m not sure what theaters will look like but I know it’s going to be more premium.”
Having worked so successfully in the studio space on their Marvel movies, the Russo brothers founded their own banner, AGBO, in 2016 to build a slate of their own film and TV projects. The company is working across the entertainment spectrum including streaming projects with the likes of Netflix (Extraction), Amazon (Citadel), and Apple TV+ (Cherry), as well as studios including Paramount (Down Under Cover) and Disney (Hercules) and indie distributors such as A24 (Everything Everywhere All at Once); that’s just naming a few examples of the work coming out of the already-prolific company.
Russo said he found the idea of being in an exclusive relationship with one distributor “inefficient” and that the duo had created their banner to facilitate their own storytelling. “It damages your leverage [having an exclusive deal], forces you to make choices you don’t want to make,” he commented.
The producer spoke about his admiration for international content, explaining that all of his favourite content from the last five years had come from “outside of Hollywood”.
“What’s compelling to me is that we start hearing from different voices other than Hollywood. If you work in a regional market it’s critical you’re there to promote local talent,” he commented. “On a personal level I’m more interested in diversity of storytelling – the world is a better place when more diverse voices are heard.”
He singled out Netflix’s Korean phenomenon Squid Game for praise, and said that ZeroZeroZero and Gomorrah makers Cattleya are his “favourite producers in the world”.
“Artists are coming at it from a perspective that isn’t impacted by the machine,” he said on working outside of Hollywood. “Audiences are excited about regional content.”