Hidden Figures took the top spot at the box office this weekend for the second week in a row. Figures faced an influx of new movies which were coming in to challenge the reigning champ but all new movies, including a crime drama by Ben Affleck, seemed to perform far below expectations.
Hidden Figures is based on the true story of three African-American women who helped NASA calculate flight trajectories for the first human spaceflight, Project Mercury. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, Figures has received critical praise and significant awards season buzz including two Golden Globe nominations.
Hidden Figures bumped Star Wars: Rogue One out of the top box office spot in its opening weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, Figures has grossed more than $54 million domestically in the first two weeks of its wide distribution.
While Hidden Figures thrived, several movies that opened this weekend hoping to give it a challenge appeared to falter including Ben Affleck’s Live by Night. Affleck’s new movie debuted at number eleven behind Jennifer Lawrence’s sci-fi thriller Passengers which has been in theaters for several weeks. Topping the group of new releases and coming in at fifth place behind Hidden Figures, La La Land, Sing, and Star Wars: Rogue One was the thriller The Bye Bye Man.
Live by Night is a crime drama which Ben Affleck both directs and stars in. Set in the 1920s during the prohibition era, Affleck plays the son of the Boston Police Superintendent. Affleck’s character rejects authority and crosses a mob boss. The movie, which was also written by Affleck, also stars Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, and Sienna Miller.
It’s been a rough go for Ben Affleck whose career has had more ups and downs than a roller coaster. While Affleck is capable of putting together quality work like Good Will Hunting, Gone Girl, and Argo, he has also had some of the most criticized movies in film history including Gigli, Daredevil, and last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
While Affleck’s last endeavor in which he both directed and starred, Argo, received significant critical acclaim including a Best Picture Oscar and a Best Directing Golden Globe, critics seem to think Ben bit off more than he could chew by both acting and directing in this project. Affleck brought up the difficulty of navigating both roles in recent interviews as he turns his head to his next project, The Batman.
Ben received praise for his portrayal of the caped crusader, but a meme of Affleck’s seemingly sad reaction to poor reviews to Batman v Superman circulated the web last year. One observer even set the interview to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” as the camera zoomed in on Affleck’s distant expression in which he seemed to check out of the conversation upon hearing the interviewer say the film was being ridiculed.
Given the criticism of Batman v Superman and the fact that Live by Night isn’t starting off on the right foot, some have to wonder if Affleck’s lamenting about the difficulty of directing and starring in a film was Ben’s not so subtle way of saying he is having doubts about whether or not he will continue with The Batman project.
Affleck has already noted that if he doesn’t like the script, he will walk away from it. In fact, Ben seems to be trying to come up with any possible excuse to step away from his dual roles for the film. According to USA Today, Affleck recently discussed how the wardrobe of Batman could stifle his ability to direct.
“I know what’s it’s like to be in the suit,” Affleck said. “We’ll have to modify the suit to make it a little bit easier to put on and take off. When you are in it, you can be sweating, crazy and exhausted, do your part and walk away. But when you’re a director, you can’t walk away. You have to be there for everybody. Chief among the challenges of doing Batman, will be finding a suit that’s more comfortable,” Ben reiterated.
Though Hidden Figures seems to be the box office darling this weekend, however, there is anticipation that Affleck could experience some joy toward the end of the year. Despite the criticism of Batman v Superman, Warner Bros dared to trust Zach Snyder once again to take the helm of the upcoming Justice League movie which is to be released in November. Even though Batman v Superman was concerned a critical failure, it pulled in $855 million worldwide. Given the amount of interest in superhero movies, Justice League is anticipated to make similar bank leaving Hidden Figures‘ revenue to look like chump change.
[Featured Image by Twentieth Century Fox]