Ben Affleck’s ‘Live By Night’ Achieves Flop Status With $75 Million Loss for Warner Bros.
I‘ve never seen 75 million dollars. It’s more than I have ever had, will ever have, and in all likelihood, more than I will cumulatively earn over the course of my entire life. I can’t really even conceive of how much money that is. So the news that Ben Affleck singlehandedly lost $75,000,000 for Warner Bros. with his pricy and apparently unappealing Live By Night has been kind of hard to process. How is he allowed to continue directing movies? This defies all the laws of Monopoly, my lone primer on the ins and outs of macroeconomics.
But yes, it’s true, Variety ran an exclusive last night that tabulated the losses on Affleck’s period-piece gangster noir in the neighborhood of $75 million. How could a handsomely-shot new effort from a director who’s proven himself a competent orchestrator of gunplay-heavy action films thrice over flop so hard (like, “$16.5 million worldwide”-hard), especially with the name-brand of Affleck plastered all over it? Blame it on the late-winter release date, which buried the project under the cavalcade of awards competitors and feel-good holiday pictures. Or maybe it comes down to critics, who savaged the film in their reviews before promptly discarding it. It’s certainly not for lack of publicity; Warner Bros. reportedly sank tens of millions into marketing, and even Taylor Swift’s Instagram account tried to spread the word.
But thems is the breaks. Warner Bros. will try to scrape a little more money together wth home video sales and TV licensing, while Affleck will move right along to his next directorial gig on The Batman. Yet another perk of being Batfleck; Elaine May lost $40 million on the slow-moving quagmire Ishtar and nobody ever let her behind a camera again. Affleck flushes $75 mil down the toilet, and it’s onto the next blockbuster.