Warner Bros. Pictures has enjoyed a fruitful working relationship with Ben Affleck to date, having previously backed the actor/writer/director’s critically-acclaimed crime/thriller The Town as well as his Best Picture Oscar-winning historical drama/thriller, Argo. Affleck is now playing Batman in WB’s DC Extended Universe and currently has two non-DCEU related WB projects in the pipeline: The Accountant (a dramatic thriller that Affleck headlines only and Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) is directing) and Live By Night, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane (who also wrote the source material for Mystic River, Shutter Island, and Affleck’s own Gone Baby Gone film adaptation).
Live By Night was originally slated to reach theaters in October 2016, before it was delayed by a year to October 2017 – in order to provide Affleck with enough time to complete both production and post-production on the film, while leaving room for him to also work on director Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie (so that film can make its own 2017 release date). However, it appears that Live By Night is making better progress than expected, now that its release date has been moved up by several months.
WB announced that Live By Night is now opening in U.S. theaters on January 13th, 2017, as part of the studio’s updated release date slate – which includes The LEGO Movie Sequel being released in 2019, instead of 2018 as previously announced. Live By Night‘s opening weekend competition at the box office currently includes both Paramount Picture’s Friday the 13th horror franchise reboot and family-friendly adventure Monster Trucks, in addition to 20th Century Fox’s true story-inspired mathematician drama, Hidden Figures. There’s also a possibility that Live By Night will get an Oscar-qualifying limited release in December 2016, before it goes into wide release the next month.
Live by Night, which Affleck adapted for the big screen, stars Affleck as Joe Coughlin – a character who, as a young man, starts out as a small-time thief in 1920s Boston, on his way to becoming a dangerous and powerful gangster in Prohibition-era America. Costarring in Live By Night is Sienna Miller (High-Rise) as Emma Gould, the woman who Joe falls in love with during his youth, before his life changes forever after the pair cross paths. Other keys roles in the film are played by such character actors as Brendan Gleeson (In the Heart of the Sea), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Chris Cooper (11.22.63), in addition to Elle Fanning (Maleficent), Scott Eastwood (The Longest Ride), Titus Welliver (The Good Wife), and Anthony Michael Hall (Awkward.), among others.
As mentioned before, it’s plausible that WB will release Live By Night in New York/Los Angeles theaters only near the end of this year before it goes into wide release – seeing as the movie reads as being a potential awards season contender. That strategy worked for WB when it released American Sniper in an Oscar-qualifying run in the last week of 2014, before it went wide in January 2015 and became a massive commercial success. 20th Century Fox pulled a similar trick when it released The Revenant in a few theaters in December 2015 (so it could be considered for the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony), and the movie was likewise a critical/commercial success.
There is the possibility that Live By Night is being “dumped” in January 2017 because it’s not shaping up all that well in post-production, but that seems doubtful. Affleck, at this stage in his career, has yet to misfire as a director and WB has all the more reason to be confident about his filmmaking abilities, based on their history together. Moreover, this year the studio recruited Affleck to play a more significant creative role on the Justice League movie and fast-tracked development on the Batman solo film that he’s also co-writing (with DC head honcho Geoff Johns) and directing, after his version of the Caped Crusader was one of the better-received elements in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. That would be an odd series of moves on the studio’s part, if it felt that Live By Night was a dud.
Live By Night opens in U.S. theaters (in wide release) on January 13th, 2017.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures