Bradley Cooper Ponders New Revenue Streams as Industry Shifts to Streaming: “Maybe It’s Opening Up a Pizza Shop?”

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter

Guillermo del Toro’s neo-noir Nightmare Alley is one of a handful of high-profile films to crash and burn at the box office as of late, earning just $9.4 million since its December release despite the star power of Bradley Cooper , Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Toni Collette.

According to Cooper, that did not level anyone involved and he’s hopeful the Searchlight film will soon find an audience when it heads to streaming on HBO Max and Hulu.

“It wasn’t a shock to any of us how it landed theatrically,” Cooper tells Kim Masters, who is also an editor-at-large for The Hollywood Reporter , during a new episode of her KCRW show The Busines s. “I do think that it’s a wonderful movie to see in the theater, just because the scope of it all but I do think it’s also will be very appetizing at home. The thing that I always go back to, great content will hit you right between the eyes, no matter what it is, if it’s an incredible haiku. It can stay with you for years and change your life.”

That’s what happened to him as Cooper said he saw a long list of iconic films not in a movie theater but at home. “I was born in 1975. There was a theater behind my house,” he tells Masters during what is the second installment of a two-part conversation, which covered full-frontal nudity , Licorice Pizza and playing Jon Peters. “I saw some great movies there but the movies that changed my life and inspired me to do what I do for a vocation were The Elephant Man, Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Shampoo, Coming Home and Deer Hunter . All of those movies I saw on a 16-inch television set.”

The disclosure led to a broader discussion about the future of the movie business with Cooper opening up about how he’s been impacted financially on the industry’s pivot to streaming and his predictions on the future of exhibition.

“On a personal level, how I can make a living has completely changed,” Cooper said, adding that he’s bet on himself for films (like American Sniper and A Star is Born ) that required sacrificing upfront fees for a share of the backend. “The upside, if it was successful, is that I would be paid a lot more. Those days are completely gone and there is trepidation I have with that. No question, no question.”

Cooper said the switch has led him to actively be thinking about other sources of revenue outside of movie-making. Masters asked what options he’s been considering and Cooper said that while he is unsure (“Maybe it’s opening up a pizza shop? I really don’t know), he won’t stop making movies. The multi-hyphenate is already knee deep in his next one, a Leonard Bernstein biopic titled Maestro that Netflix is backing starring Cooper, Jeremy Strong and Carey Mulligan.

“I’m just so lucky that Netflix is going to pay for the movie,” he said. “But that’s just so the movie can get made but there’s no back end. That’s for the love of the game. That’s why I’m doing that movie and I’m so grateful that they’re allowing me to make it. Scott Stuber, thank the Lord. Netflix is the only place that would make that movie.” [Stuber is head of original film at Netflix.]

As for those theatrical predictions, Cooper is optimistic that movie theaters will always be around. “I don’t think that the theater going experience will ever go away, like opera has never gone away and other things have never gone away,” he explains. “If a movie is made in a way that it’s most ideally seen in a theater, there will be the availability, the access for someone, if they wanted to, to see it in a theater. That’ll be around for a while.”

Listen to their full conversation here .

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