Ben Affleck on The Last Duel’s box office disappointment

Ben Affleck in The Last Duel
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Ben Affleck sort of agrees with Ridley Scott’s reasons for The Last Duel falling at the box office.

Ben Affleck has been riding a wave of strong reviews for his recent string of performances of late, including in George Clooney’s coming of age drama, The Tender Bar. Whilst on the red carpet for the premiere of that movie, Affleck, who has also earned plaudits for his role in Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, was asked for his thoughts on the reasons behind that film’s poor box office performance, despite earning good reviews.

Of course, there’s a wider context to this question too: director Ridley Scott raised more than a few eyebrows last month when he declared that the film’s failure to ignite the box office was down to millennials and their ‘cell phones’. Affleck, in the kind of manner that this debate has perhaps been missing, took the time to explain in detail why he thinks Scott may well be right.

It’s a long answer, and one we haven’t reproduced in full, but be sure to head over to The Hollywood Reporter to check out the full five minute meditation. In short though, Affleck began by looking at how audiences and the way they watch films, are changing:

“One of the fundamental ways it’s changing is that the people who want to see complicated, adult, non-IP dramas are the same people who are saying to themselves, ‘you know what? I don’t need to go out to a movie theatre because I’d like to pause it, go to the bathroom, finish it tomorrow.’”, he argued. “It’s not like when I was a kid and the TV at home was an 11-inch black-and-white TV. I mean, you can get a 65-inch TV at Walmart for $130. There’s good quality out there and people are at home streaming in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It’s all changed”.

Affleck would go on to add that the death of cinema has been wrongly predicted before, and also suggests that streaming plays an important role in the makeup of cinema exhibition.

“A lot of the time, and I’m even guilty of this myself, I can lament it. I went to see one movie theatrically. That movie was Licorice Pizza. There are probably two or three directors, people like Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, who have people saying, ‘okay, I’m going to see two or three movies in the theatre this year, I’ll go see theirs.’”

“I think you’re going to see 40 movies at least [released] each year now. When [Affleck’s directorial debut] Gone Baby Gone came out, there were something like 600 movies being released every year. We had seven movies debuting on the same weekend. It was really difficult, and I think maybe [The Last Duel] would’ve done better on streaming because the way [studios and streamers] have of identifying and marketing directly to people who like it is really effective.”

Whilst Affleck never directly addresses Scott’s short and blunt barb, he certainly adds a fuller context to the debate. Frankly, we’re happy to see somebody take the time (especially on a red carpet!) to discuss what is a complex and nuanced issue in some detail.


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