2016 wasn’t Ben Affleck’s year. The A-lister behind Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered some of the weakest reviews of his career, picked up a Worst Actor Razzie nomination, and despite high hopes, October’s The Accountant didn’t serve him well. But the biggest blow probably came from Live By Night, his prohibition-era gangster drama which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in, which not only failed to live up to his Argo standards but completely flat-tired at the box office. According to recent estimations, Affleck’s fourth directorial effort lost Warner Bros. a whole $75 million. Ouch.
While the former Oscar contender looked strong at first, especially with its prime real estate late December/early January release date, the buzz wasn’t found and its film festival attendance was surprisingly lacking, especially for such a noteworthy release. Though it serves as Affleck’s second Dennis Lehane adaptation after 2010’s far better received The Town, Live By Night fell dark before it even really had a chance to shine.
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Worse yet, Live By Night cost $65 million, which makes its paltry $16.5 million gross mighty slim, especially when marketing costs and other expenses are put into place. It’s both Affleck’s most expensive film and his lowest grossing to date. Gone Baby Gone, for instance, made $34.6 million on its $19 million budget. The aforementioned The Town, meanwhile, gained $154 million on a $37 million budget and Affleck’s Best Picture winner Argo took in $232.3 million from its $44.5 million budget.
We’d be lying if we said we were kinder to Live by Night than other critics. Our own Joseph Hernandez called it “overstuffed and disappointing” in his middling review, praising the strong supporting cast but believing it got too carried away in its own story mechanics and overwrought storytelling.
The man doesn’t need to worry too much, however. This year, Affleck will be seen in Justice League, then — God willing — he’ll also write, direct and star in The Batman, which should (hopefully) get him back on track when it (hopefully) gears up later in 2017.