Back when Ben Affleck first became a household name after winning the best original screenplay Oscar with Matt Damon for 1997’s Good Will Hunting, few could have predicted the rollercoaster ride his career would go on to become. Affleck’s place as one of Hollywood’s brightest talents took a series of wrong turns with some less than stellar film roles and before anyone could say “Gigli”, one was more likely to hear criticism of the young actor rather than praise.
Thankfully for Affleck (and audiences everywhere), things turned back around. Several strong directorial efforts culminated in a Best Picture Oscar for Argo in 2013 and his new job as Batman has managed to convince many a skeptic amongst comic book movie fans that this is a caped crusader with some grit. Add Affleck’s upcoming The Batman – which he co-wrote and will direct as well as star in – and the idea that Affleck is back and perhaps even better than ever is surely worth considering.
Before anyone gets a glimpse at The Batman however, Affleck’s newest upcoming project is the Prohibition Era gangster film Live By Night. Directed and adapted by Affleck from the hit novel by Dennis Lehane, the film was originally slated to open in US theaters in October of 2016, then delayed to October 2017, before being set for January 2017. Now according to THR, Live By Night will hit select theaters on December 25, 2016 before opening wide on January 13, 2017. This move will put the film in line for Oscar consideration at the 2017 Academy Awards. Warner Bros' decision to move Live By Night up to an earlier release date apparently stems from the studio having seen an early cut.
The film tells the story of Joe Coughlin (Affleck), a small time thief who works his way up the ranks of organized crime after moving from Boston to Florida. The initial trailer of Live By Night arrived this past September and took the Internet by storm. Starring Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon), Brendan Gleeson (In the Heart of the Sea), Sienna Miller (Burnt) and Anthony Michael Hall (Z Nation), the film is certainly getting its share of attention as of late and having bumped the release date up, Warner Bros seems confident that Affleck’s latest work is golden.
Affleck’s directorial track record is a definite plus in a situation like this and Warner Bros is probably making the right move by not holding off on this release at a time when the actor's connection to Batman has quite possibly made him a bigger star than ever. However, period films about Prohibition Era gangsters are nothing new and it’s important to consider that long before Live By Night was even on anyone’s radar, the gangster genre arguably had more flops than Oscar caliber hits to its credit.
The fact that Affleck has adapted Live By Night from a Lehane novel gives the film’s legitimacy an even stronger edge however, as Affleck had previously adapted a Lehane novel – Gone Baby Gone – for his feature directorial debut. That was the film that made audiences and critics alike take notice of Affleck once again, so it seems fitting that now in a well-respected and successful stage in his career, Affleck has returned once more to a trusted source.
Live By Night arrives in select theaters on December 25, 2016 and opens wide on January 13, 2017.