This decade has seen Ben Affleck rise back to the top of Hollywood’s A-list. Whether he’s directing (and starring) in acclaimed dramas like The Town and Argo, or simply collaborating with a respected director like David Fincher on Gone Girl, Affleck’s involvement with a project is now something many moviegoers get excited about.
The Oscar winner parlayed his reestablished reputation into the coveted role of Batman for Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Affleck is set to be the new Bruce Wayne in the DC Extended Universe for the foreseeable future. Warner Bros. obviously has big plans for their leading man, though it appears that has already affected Affleck’s upcoming non-Batman projects.
Deadline is reporting that WB pushed back the release dates for two new Affleck vehicles: his next directorial outing, Live by Night, has been pushed back from its initial October 7, 2016 debut to an unspecified point in 2017, while The Accountant (directed by Gavin O’Connor and starring Affleck) has taken Live by Night‘s most recent spot (having previously been set to arrive on January 29, 2016).
According to Deadline, the reasoning behind this decision is that Snyder’s Justice League Part 1 shooting schedule would have clashed with production on Live by Night. Affleck had hoped to start rolling the cameras on the new crime drama by November 2015, but now that it’s being reported that Justice League will commence principal photography in spring 2016, it would be impossible for Affleck to complete both projects at once. On the other hand, The Accountant is already in post-production, so his work on that film is done. However, there may be more at play here.
In a separate report, Den of Geek is claiming that WB delaying the two films stems from the studio’s desire to develop a trilogy of standalone Batman films starring Affleck. Apparently, studio executives are so impressed by his performance as Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman, that they are in the early stages of putting together a so-called “Golden Deal” that would extend Affleck’s contract to include the proposed trio of solo movies.
Obviously, there’s a lot to digest here. During San Diego Comic-Con 2015 it came out that WB was in the process of putting together a single standalone Batman film which Affleck would direct and co-write with Geoff Johns. Nothing official concerning this came out of the WB panel at SDCC, but we’ve known for a while that the studio intends to produce at least one new solo Batman film for its upcoming slate of DC Comics adaptations. This is the first time word of possible sequels has been made public, though given Affleck’s stature and the box office prowess of Batman, it wouldn’t be surprising if this rumor came true.
However, a ‘Batfleck’ trilogy may not be plausible. Between 2016 and 2020, WB plans to distribute 12 DC films set in the DCEU (including the undated Superman and Batman solo films), so the studio has a full DC slate as is. It’s true that things could be moved around to accommodate more Batman movies, but the studio seems to have a firm plan in place and probably wants to stick to it as much as possible. Live by Night is still a part of WB’s immediate future too, so even if Affleck did sign on for a Batman trilogy, it would take years for that complete series to come into fruition (with minimal impact on the development of a crime drama).
So for now, it’s best not to read too much into this. Affleck’s role in Justice League alone is a perfectly logical explanation for pushing back Live by Night, and WB most likely did not want to completely vacate the film’s original October 2016 window (prime awards season real estate). Until word comes straight from WB, best to take the rumor part of this story as just that.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern Corps on June 19th, 2020.