Things are being turned upside down in the movie and TV business recently with the revelation of a number sexual assault scandals relating to high profile actors, producers, and other public figures from Harvey Weinstein to Brett Ratner to Kevin Spacey, and now Ben Affleck is giving back some of the money he earned from Weinstein movies. While the response to many of these scandals has been swift, the news that some of this behavior wasn't entirely unknown is also disheartening. Fortunately, it appears as if the industry is making strides in the right direction.
As a filmmaker who profited financially and gained Hollywood clout from partnerships with Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Smith was quick to denounce the disgraced producer and vowed to donate his future earnings from any projects he did under a Weinstein company, and now Ben Affleck says he's doing the same. During the press tour for Justice League, Affleck sat down with Fox 5's Kevin McCarthy, who asked Affleck what he thought about Smith's decision, and he revealed he's following in his old friend's footsteps:
"It's funny you mention that because once Kevin suggested that, I decided to do the same thing, so I’m giving any further residuals that I get from either a Miramax or a Weinstein movie will go either to FI or to RAINN. One is Film Independent and the other is a women’s organization, and I just didn’t want to cash any more checks from the guy, you know? I don’t usually bring it up."
It's a respectable move from Affleck, but it's impossible not to mention the fact that he was also subject to his own accusations shortly after Weinstein's came to light, and his brother Casey has had a number of accusations leveled his way as well. Affleck was quick to apologize and has been mostly controversy-free since then, but this move will doubtless be seen as his own gesture of repentance in addition to simply refusing profit from a Weinstein movie.
Affleck says he hopes this is something that becomes more common with other actors who made money from those profits, although a 100% donation might not be feasible for everyone :
"It was Kevin’s idea, I thought it was a good one and I hope it catches on. Some people probably couldn’t afford to give all those residuals away, but even if you’re doing 10 percent, you know, that’s something.”
The implications of this decision could be interesting as time goes on, especially with the potential of more producers being accused. Brett Ratner, for example, is a producer on both Batman v Superman and Justice League, which Affleck was obviously promoting when he made this statement. While Ratner's logo does appear before BvS and may appear before Justice League (some have speculated it will be removed), his influence is hardly that of Miramax and The Weinstein Company on Affleck's career. Affleck owes much of his fame to the mogul, particularly the Oscar he won for Good Will Hunting, whereas Ratner is only one producer of several, including Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven, to be credited on the DC films.