EXCLUSIVE: Ben Affleck just started Monday directing the untitled drama starring Matt Damon as maverick sneaker salesman Sonny Vaccaro, about his dogged pursuit to get Michael Jordan to lace up in Nike shoes, and now Affleck and Damon are getting traction on their own groundbreaking endeavor.
They are negotiating to launch a new monied production company that is in talks to be funded by RedBird Capital’s Gerry Cardinale. Deadline hears that Studio 8 CEO Jeff Robinov is circling a significant substantial role. Robinov has a long history with both Affleck (Argo and The Town) and Damon (Ocean’s Eleven franchise) during his days running Warner Bros. The intention is to generate big-time content.
The untitled Nike movie is being done for Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures, but sources said that the new company likely will have a producing role on the film as well. It’s based on a 2021 Black List script called Air Jordan by Alex Convery, and Good Will Hunting scribes Affleck and Damon took a pass on that script about how Nike co-founder Phil Knight (played by Affleck) sent Vaccaro on a quest to sign Jordan in what became the most important athlete-product intertwining ever. It turned Nike, and Jordan, into billion-dollar global enterprises.
The production company might take awhile to coalesce, and it isn’t done because the principals are busy making this movie, but it is one of the more promising-sounding entrepreneurial ventures to come along in a bit. Damon and Affleck won Oscars for Good Will Hunting, and Affleck directed the Best Picture winner Argo. They most recently teamed on the Ridley Scott-directed The Last Duel.
Cardinale’s RedBird Capital manages more than $6 billion in assets across multiple sectors including sports, media and entertainment. Cardinale is known to be a deal architect and business builder, and the firm’s investment portfolio includes many of the world’s most iconic entrepreneurs, properties and brands across the sports and media ecosystems – including Fenway Sports Group (Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, Pittsburgh Penguins and New England Sports Network); Skydance Media (Larry and David Ellison); the Springhill Company (LeBron James and Maverick Carter); the XFL with Dwayne Johnson and his partner Dany Garcia; and most recently European football’s A.C. Milan, which recently won Italy’s Serie A Championship.
Affleck and Damon are represented by WME and Ziffren Brittenham.
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