Ben Affleck’s ‘Live by Night’ Flop Results in $75 Million Loss (EXCLUSIVE)

Live by Night
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Live By Night” mostly fired blanks when it debuted in theaters last December, and its failure has resulted in a lot of financial carnage.

The expensive gangster picture was a passion project for Ben Affleck, who directed, wrote, produced, and starred in the story of a Florida rum runner. But critics ripped the picture, calling it dramatically inert and a muddle. That’s left Warner Bros., the studio behind the film flop, looking at a $75 million loss, according to insiders with knowledge of its financing and rival studio executives.


Ben Affleck Batman

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“Live By Night” has made $16.5 million globally, and is not expected to have international appeal despite Affleck’s star power. Talky period pictures don’t tend to play well overseas, particularly when they don’t come loaded with Oscars (“Live By Night” was shut out). The film cost $65 million to produce and tens of millions more to distribute and market. Warner Bros. only gets a percentage of ticket sales. It will try to cushion its losses with home entertainment sales and rentals, as well as television licensing deals. The studio did have a significant financial partner on the film in RatPac-Dune Entertainment, though it’s not clear how much the slate financing partner invested in “Live By Night.”

“Live By Night” is adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel. It co-stars Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, and Chris Cooper, and centers on a Prohibition-era criminal who battles with the Ku Klux Klan and rival gangs as he struggles to corner the market on hooch.

Warner Bros. has a long relationship with Affleck, having backed and made money on his previous directorial efforts such as “Argo” and “The Town.” He also played the Dark Knight in the studio’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad,” and the upcoming “Justice League.” Affleck plans to direct a standalone Batman film.

A spokesman for Warner Bros. declined to comment.

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  1. Jawnee says:

    Great movie. From 1 – 10 I’ll give it a solid 7 1/2 – 8 minimum. Critics criticize their momma’s cooking every day of the week.

  2. I absolutely love this film. I had the pleasure of seeing it in a fully packed theater, in the company of friends of mine and everybody was touched. All negativity about it comes down to bias, most probably because some of the messages it carries are not so politically correct. Bad marketing, bad timing for its limited release play big part too. This reminds me of “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart – one of the most celebrated motion pictures nowadays, but when first screened, it was a huge flop. Similar circumstances – bad timing and bad marketing.

    Or may be for some it is too much that two-time Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck wrote it, directed it and acted the lead role! The man literally has poured his heart in this project and did an outstanding job as writer and director. As actor Affleck is tremendous. When portraying complex, flawed characters, who find their way after serious struggle Ben is completely in his element!

    We also loved the cinematography by three-times Academy Award-winner Robert Richardson. It is superb!

    Ignore the critics people, see the film and make your own mind! I am sure one they Live By Night will be one of the most celebrated films of all time. Just as It’s A Wonderful Life!

    • Mike says:

      I have seen worse movies, Tom Hanks played in a movie just like this at around the excate same time in his career. If I had to choose this movie was better then predemtion that Tom Hanks played in. Not a bad movie

  3. B. Diller says:

    Perhaps Live By Night failure has more to do with what was happening with Ben personally at the time it was being developed and shot. It was on the heels of “nannygate”. It is his first directed film without Jen as his support system and his rock. Maybe their relationship at the time took its emotional toll on Ben in all the obvious ways, but also in his work. What’s the saying, behind every successful man is a good woman. Well not this time.

  4. The studio(s) take a 75 million dollar hit and Crazy Ben STILL walks away with his “A List” star paycheck.

  5. I REALLY wanted to like this movie. It looked great, loved the setting, time, acting and really liked Ben in that recent Accountant flick but…


    Academy award be damned, YOU ARE NOT, REPEAT NOT, A WRITER!

    Im sure you’d be a very helpful guy to a WRITER, but jebus, The way the darter was turned from a heroin junkie/ porn whore to a saintly, female Elmer Gantry was simply ridiculous.

    Im not saying that couldnt have been a good idea, but the way it was written was ridiculous. That is what blew the movie up. An actual writer would never have allowed that.

    From that overly stretched premise, the entire story fell apart.

    Maybe if you stretched the idea out over a longer span of time and done this in a 20 episode tv show. (Why the f didnt you do that?)

    So sorry. Wish it would have been and done better. Bet that puts the studios against expensive period pieces for a while.

    Guess we will never see a car chase with 1920s cars in a movie ever again. Now THAT Was cool!

  6. newtemplar says:

    There’s nothing wrong with mobster films but there is a balance to them which “Live by Night” seems to miss. Good or bad, the audience has to care about someone or something! After this one, I needed to watch “Get Shorty” to shake off the bad vibes. Maybe I’ll dig up some old “Johnny Staccato” next!

  7. This is how it starts. The rage. The fever.

  8. The Juror says:

    Warner Bros. blew it by not going wide Christmas weekend. I was a fan of his past directorial efforts, and was stoked to see it opening night. Unfortunately it didn’t go wide until January 13th, enough time for the malaise to set in and the poisonous word to spread.
    At Christmas, especially this one where almost nothing was fresh, it could have played. Sure, it would have gotten less screens, but I would have had the those 10 to 12 days to get it to a respectable numbers.

  9. Dr Deplorable says:

    Denmark, Norway, Germany, Israel are all producing fantastic films and TV content-the acting is superb, the stories compelling, the cinematography world class. Plus those actors don’t smear you with their political diarrhea! Affleck is just another spoiled sanctimonious American douchebag

  10. Darcy Marketfog says:

    Saw the movie. There is nothing to “feel good” about; no heroic character; no empathic character; just nasty people doing bad things. Even the nicer characters became collateral damage. Whichever Hollywood moneymen OKed this piece of crap should have to pay for it out of their own pockets.

  11. KP says:

    The major problem was this was terribly marketed. I had no clue about it. I was out with family recently to see a different movie that was sold out. This and another movie that we never heard of was playing at the same time. The plot appeared to be better so we went to see it.

    It turned out to be a really good gangster flick with nice messages dropped throughout in between the shoot ’em up scenes (as my aunt calls them)! It was probably an 8 or 8.5 out of 10 for me (which is pretty high for me as I’m quite critical). Sort of on the lines of the Goodfellas but with a different storyline (prohibition speakeasies and such). It also revealed some hidden truths about Tampa that I found pretty interesting.

    I’m surprised so many folks get so bent out of shape on politics. As long as the person is not spewing hate or evil, I can agree to disagree with him or her about how they think we should be governed without it making me ban them from me supporting something they are a part of. How did it get that deep? Life is way too short for all of that. BUT, it is everyone’s prerogative. I get it. I just think it’s a lot of energy one can put somewhere else and meanwhile still get thoroughly entertained…

  12. mike says:

    What’s wrong with the movie? I liked the previews. Looks very interesting.

  13. Pat says:

    He even pulled the KKK card. Surprised libville didn’t bite.

  14. Paul says:

    Star power?? Really?? That is such a crock. Just like the liberal pockets of NYC and north-eastern states, Hollywood and its entire infrastructure live in a bubble. Outside of those two enclaves, the general public throughout the majority of the United States couldn’t care less about the guy. Actors like Affleck lose half of their fan base when they open their mouths and try to discuss policy issues of which they have little understanding. Moreover, they don’t even stop and listen to the other side of the argument. Unfortunately, narcissism gets in the way.

  15. Laura Childs says:

    I have no inside knowledge, but it is my understanding that many screen writers turned to Carrie Fisher for help with their projects. By that I mean she had a knack for clarifying scripts and plots. I think she could have helped with this project if they had only asked her.

  16. Martin Curd says:

    Good, he is a Liberal Toad…I will not spend one dime on these idiot Liberals and apparently I am not alone!

  17. Futuremam says:

    Maybe he should keep his fat mouth shut about politics and not alienate half of his audience.

  18. Max Power says:

    All you “celebrities” that sided with the Globalists Illuminati whores. You’re all on notice.

  19. john says:

    Big Liberal and Trump voters stayed home. Hey Ben get your Lib friends to watch it, pay back bennie, pay back……
    I do not need your idea about America nor your friends who are also loosers…. Watch as Liberal Movies tank more and more. Holly Weed stay out of Politics if you know what is good for you, shut up and just act…..Or pack it in Most of Us are sick of your acts……

  20. David says:

    At his is great news. What a no talent ahole

  21. Mike Taylor says:

    Arrogant prick , he does know working Americans hate him right? Let’s just say that he’ll have many flops in his future… 🖕🏻

  22. Ken Valley says:

    Aflect has star power? Says who? He’s just another left-wing loser who despises average Americans, but want them to go see his movies? No thanks! We Americans would rather stay home and read a book, before spending $20 to see a bunch of spoiled Socialist hypocrites!

  23. Mark says:

    The liberals in Hollywood are about to feel the pain of backing Hillary. Be interesting to see how DeNiiro and Damon’s new film do. I hope all conservatives stay away.

    • Ken Valley says:

      Oh yes! We Americans are sick and tired of spoiled liberal hypocrites like DeNiro, Damon and Clooney trying to preach to us about their ignorance on politics. They speak from their Crystal palaces down to those who live in average homes and shacks. They cried about Global Warming, but still fly around in their private jets and limosines. Then, they whined about gun control, but 90% of their movies promote violence and killings by guns. Hypocrisy!

  24. gphx says:

    Fans ridiculed choosing him for the Batman/Superman movie. It went on to win several awards – Razzies. His current movie probably didn’t do well enough to get a Razzie.

  25. we don’t go see a lousy scumbag who cheats on his wife and his kids. This so called man can’t act through what you see of him on the screen, so why pay to watch this cheater, trying to be someone else,and ruin the whole movie. He is right there with several others I can’t break away from their person to see in a movie. Tom Cruise, is another one. Scientology has broken down his brain and He is just weird, too weird to watch. Is this one of the reasons this other wise bad movie lost money?

  26. Boardwalk Empire pretty much set the bar for prohibition era stories. Makes it very hard, and in this case impossible, for a 2 hour movie to compete.

  27. Just another liberal lunatic from Hollyweird making dumb movies. Even if his movies are free I wouldn’t watch them. Not even by mistake.

  28. GC says:

    Ouch!!!! Damn good director, horrible in his politics. He’s a friggin lefty. I have absolutely crossed out his boyfriend matt damon from my viewing list. No more of this America hater.

  29. Mark says:

    It is beyond that the same old tired and boring actors and actresses just keep getting into movies, TV shows, etc. For me, seeing a movie with fresh faces and voices is way better than seeing the same duds over and over and over. Ben is BORNG! Leo is BORING. Cruise is BORING. Will Smith is HORRIBLE!

  30. El Duderino says:

    What will it take for people to finally realize that this guy is talentless?

  31. Corkster51 says:

    I wouldn’t blame Ben completely for this movie’s demise. The book was lousy, so why would the movie be any better? I loved Lehane’s early books, especially the detective series, but the book behind this movie was crap.

  32. Balz2thawal says:

    Someone already did it a few posts up. No shame.

  33. Mark says:

    When middle America threatens to boycott a Hollywood production, liberals scream anti-white slurs, laced with profanity and hate. They claim that we have almost no influence and all such boycotts will fail. Well, one disgusting movie after another goes bankrupt, and we just elected a President. So much for being irrelevant and powerless. It looks like the opposite is true. Right back at you Hollywood. Stop preaching anti-white hatred, and stop raping children…maybe people will start watching your movies again.

  34. Jim says:

    It was unfortunate timing. A movie about a man taking on the KKK is a tough sell in a country that just elected the KKK candidate pr*sident.

    • Oh yeah, because Latinos like me wouldn’t want to watch a movie that features the KKK, based on the fact that Trump is President. Huh…? I’m not sure I follow that.

    • Balz2thawal says:

      Blaming Trump for a bad movie? That’s a new direction for the loony left.

      • Hey, Live By Night is not a bad movie! And agree with David that it is panned so harshly because some of the messages it carries are NOT politically correct!

      • Jah Nus says:

        Hah. I had no idea so many Repubes read variety. They must have purposely sniffed out Live By Night posts.

        So according to the Repube logic Ben Affleck isn’t a star, yet they all know his politics?
        And Affleck’s leftist ways are to blame for the movie’s flop, but they’re upset when Trump, KKK supporters etc are blamed
        And what about Trump supporter, Hollywpod critic Zoe Saldana? Her views didn’t matter.

        See that’s the difference between logical/scientific reasoning and hypocritical biased insanity.

        Your arguments rarely hold up. The movie didn’t appeal to audiences. No big whoop. Politics had 0 to do with it

        Affleck will bounce back. Warner Brothers will survive. And Affleck’s political views pissing off rednecks, racists and “hard working Americans” won’t mean a damned thing.

  35. his politics bleed into the film, and people don’t like his politics

  36. Olgalby says:

    Hollywood Producers need to realize that people are fed up with obnoxious lefty actors and actresses. Afleck is finished. Clooney is finished. DeNiro has not made a blockbuster in decades.shea lebeouff? They are all money losers.

  37. Thomas Anderson says:

    WB should only be bending over backwards for Directors like Chris Nolan who delivers mega box office numbers for the studio. Affleck is a joke. He goes on about Argo if it’s the last film humanity ever shot. Yet box office wise hasn’t delivered numbers to make your legs shake. Nolan took on and destroyed Marvel by himself. For crying out loud Kevin Feige refers to the dark knight movie as the gold standard!…

    • charlesamiller says:

      Nolan’s Batman “destroyed” Marvel…? Hardly. Between Iron Man and Avengers, Marvel Studios made enough money to BUY Chris Nolan.

      • Paul James says:

        Charles you are really are full of yourself ain’t you. The comments for this blog alone are worth you getting spanked publicly. Nolan’s Batman movies are of legend. Trying to compare disney’fied movies to cinematic masterpieces that is the dark knight trilogy. Mate, get your head checked. Marvel buying out Chris Nolan????…. what you smoking?!!!!

      • Zack snyder says:

        Here comes the liberals and DC haters…. Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises are two of the most highly rated and critically acclaimed comic book movies. Don’t even get me started on Batman Begins. Do your research pal, Joss Whedon, Feige, Alan Horn, Ruso Bros, Branagh and Downey Jr have all publically stated that the Dark knight movies are what layers the foundations for them. These Marvel fanboys know in their hearts to the Dark Knight alone still gives them nightmares to this day.

  38. William T Novelline Jr says:

    Well more good news !! Another Hollywood jerk is taking a hot.It seems””Ben Afflictrd” is losing on his movie..Its always nice one of these ignorant self righteous narcassists gets hammered .Lets hope next time it’s even a bigger hit

  39. Joe Boots says:

    Loud mouth left wing actors have destroyed the motion picture and television industry.

  40. Ray says:

    When liberal actors like Affleck make comments and take positions that offend half the country, they do damage to their work. Liberal Hollywood still doesn’t understand this. I would have given “Live by Night” a chance based on its trailer, but would never go to a movie featuring liberals like Affleck, Damon, J Law, Streep, etc.

  41. John poland says:

    Studios seem to rely too much on Star Power to get good movies into production. When you put out Duds the investors don’t get a return on money they extended to you on the Studios recommendation.
    Remember the Studio gets paid as does the crew and stars they just get a Bigger payday from profits if the movie makes money at the box office. Investors have to WISE UP and realize they actually are the Producers of these Bombs by coming up with the Money to get them MADE ! But THEY are the ONLY ones who LOSE if it fails to make money at Theaters. So Next time they hear ‘Ben Affleck is Producing, Directing and Starring in a Proposed movie they should realize that means HE Gets PAID for 3 Titles no matter What His track record shows he has become a Poor Investment !

  42. John Hinklemeiyer says:

    Why did the movie flop? Because Ben Affleck is a bad, stuck up actor. If it weren’t for Matt Damon, we wouldn’t have to suffer through Affleck’s movies or unfounded political rhetoric.

  43. Lee Goss says:

    We are boycotting these liberal POS

  44. Jo Mama says:

    The trailer for the Town and Live by Night are painfully similar. Ben looking cool and doing the “right thing in a criminal world,” there’s a woman somewhere, some cheap action, and they both end with Ben shooting a machine gun at us. Very tedious and boring.

  45. Schlonged... says:

    What…Affleck playing a hard guy??

    Bwahaha….Affleck makes Mr Rogers look like Chuck Lidell

  46. icamatrix says:

    Do WB execs live under a rock? Affleck has been a dud for years

  47. enigmaticindividual says:

    Affleck becoming this generations Kevin Costner? You know a couple of really good movies early, but then putting out stinkers for 20 years?

    • Steve Hansen says:

      Kostner has had some real duds but even his sports movies continue to be good (I’m a sports fan) like Tin Cup and Draft Day.

  48. Heywood Jablomee says:

    I can see Affleck starring in the remake of Billy Elliot, but can’t see him playing a regular guy who doesn’t sit to pee…..Let alone a gangster.

    Affleck makes Martha Stewart look like a badazz. Maybe he could do a half hour cooking show on the Home and Garden Channel.

    • Jo Mama says:

      He’d find a way to make that political and go off on drunken tirades about deflategate while drinking the cooking wine.

  49. Don’t worry Affleck, there is always a part for you in the upcoming video Hollywood liberals will release teaching all Americans how to think, act and vote…oh wait!

  50. Chuck says:

    When these Hollywood actors talk politics , I can’t stand
    It and then don’t want to support any of there work.
    My wife and I won’t go see most of the movies because of this.

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