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Ben Affleck Writing, Directing Film About Making of ‘Chinatown’

Ben Affleck arrives at the Warner
Sipa USA via AP

Forget it, Ben. It’s Chinatown.

Ben Affleck will dig deep into Hollywood history with an upcoming adaptation of “The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood,” an inside look at the making of the film noir classic. The film has been set up at Paramount, which is only fitting given that it was that studio’s legendary head, Robert Evans, that helped will the incisive look at power, money, and corruption in Los Angeles into existence.

Affleck will adapt the book by Sam Wasson, as well as direct the film. “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels will produce the picture along with Affleck.

“Chinatown” is considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made, with career-best work from Jack Nicholson and all involved. But Wasson’s book makes it clear that the production was often bumpy. Director Roman Polanski clashed with star Faye Dunaway (who got the role after Jane Fonda passed), John Huston filmed a key scene while in his cups, and Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting score was an 11th hour addition. In the end, however, these big personalities all helped create one of the seminal works of 1970s cinema.

Affleck has had success in the past looking at Hollywood history, directing “Argo,” the story of how the CIA used a fake film production to infiltrate Iran, to Oscar glory. Affleck most recently starred in Warner Bros.’ “The Way Back,” a sports drama about a recovering alcoholic who returns to his high school to coach the basketball team. Critics praised his performance, but the movie generated lackluster ticket sales when it was released right before theaters started to close due to coronavirus.

Affleck’s latest outing behind the camera was in 2016’s gangster film “Live by Night,” which he also wrote and starred in. The movie, which also featured Elle Fanning, Chris Messina and Zoe Saldana, was a box office flop. It cost $65 million to produce but ended its theatrical run with a paltry $22 million worldwide. Affleck’s other credits include “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “The Town,” and “Good Will Hunting.”

Deadline Hollywood first reported the news.