Ben Affleck chooses next directorial project

Credit: William Morrow

Credit: William Morrow

Despite getting snubbed in the Best Director race at the 85th Academy Awards, Ben Affleck didn’t go home empty-handed, earning a Best Picture Oscar for his third directorial effort. For his fourth go in the director’s chair, Affleck is returning to familiar territory — Boston (and the work of Dennis Lehane).

Affleck will direct an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s crime novel “Live By Night”, marking the second Lehane book the actor-turned-director has tackled after his 2007 directorial debut “Gone Baby Gone”.

Warner Bros., which also backed “Argo” and “The Town” with Affleck, announced the news — which came as little surprise, since the studio has held the rights to Lehane’s period crime saga for over a year, before the book even made it to shelves. “Live By Night” has already entered pre-production today, and, reportedly, the film could start rolling as early as August.

Further details on the project via HitFix:

Affleck will produce with his Warner-based company Pearl Street, and will take a screenplay credit after skipping out on writing duties in “Argo.” At this stage, moreover, he’s the only actor confirmed to appear in the film: only in “Gone Baby Gone” has he managed to stay off-camera. He’ll presumably take the lead role of Joe Coughlin, the rebellious son of a police chief who enters a life of organized crime in Prohibition-era Boston.

Lehane’s book won the Edgar Award — the highest accolade in mystery writing — last week for Novel of the Year; among those it beat was publishing phenomenon “Gone Girl.” “Live By Night” is the second in a planned trilogy about Boston Irish lawmen, and shares characters with its 2008 predecessor “The Given Day.”

It’s a bit unusual “Live By Night” is going forward when a film of “The Given Day,” the first book in the crime trilogy, hasn’t been made. Of course, it’s not as if Warner Bros. didn’t try: they bought the rights to the book, and the project was optioned by Sam Raimi. However, the film ultimately fell through, although it wouldn’t be that surprising for the film to still get made, even after “Live By Night” is released — particularly since a similar strategy was adopted for “Angels & Demons”, which came before “The Da Vinci Code” in Dan Brown’s book chronology.

Regardless of whether a film version of “The Given Day” comes to fruition, Lehane remains one of Hollywood’s most adapted contemporary novelists, with the aforementioned “Gone Baby Gone” sharing space on the shelf with Clint Eastwood’s take on “Mystic River,” and Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of “Shutter Island.”

No release date has been formally projected for “Live By Night,” but if the success of “Argo” is any indication, expect Warner Bros. to position it for a 2015 Oscar run.

Movies Ben Affleck

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