Live By Night

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  • Directed By: Ben Affleck
  • Written By: Ben Affleck
  • Release Date: December 25, 2016
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller

Box Office Info:
Budget: $65 million (estimated) Financed by: Warner Bros; RatPac-Dune
Domestic Gross: $10,378,555 Overseas Gross: $12,300,000

Warner Bros acquired the rights to the newly published Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night in April 2012, as a vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio.  He soon bowed out and remained onboard as producer and fresh off his Oscar win for Argo, Ben Affleck attached himself as director, writer and star.  Warner Bros fast tracked Live By Night into pre-production in May 2013 with the intention of releasing the picture at the end of 2014, but WB allowed the production to be delayed so Affleck could join the cast of Gone Girl.

Production was delayed further, when WB cast Affleck as Batman and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice went before the cameras first.  After Live By Night went into production, the studio dated it for October 7, 2016 — and soon after pushed the project into 2017 and scheduled another Affleck starrer The Accountant for October 7 (which eventually moved back one week).  A limited awards qualifying run was then dated for Christmas, with a wide expansion scheduled on January 13, 2017.

Warner Bros financed with a minority investment from RatPac-Dune, for what was originally reported as a $110 million production, but as poor tracking and little hype was surrounding the movie, WB announced the budget for Live By Night at $65 million — so WB either brokered one hell of a tax rebate or found $45 million in unused cash in the back of one of the expensive period sets.  Any heat the project had was cooled off when unenthusiastic reviews posted and award buzz was nonexistent.

Live By Night was booked into 4 locations and into a very competitive holiday market with better reviewed adult fare.  It pulled in $33,336 with a troubling $8,334 per screen average.  Live By Night remained in 4 theaters for 3 weeks and grossed a mere $185,644 before going wide in its fourth frame.  It bowed against The Bye Bye Man, Sleepless, Monster Trucks and the wide expansion of Patriots Day and the semi-wide expansion of Silence.

Warner Bros gave Live By Night an expensive marketing blitz, spending that $45 million of mystery money on $45.04 million in TV ads (as per ispotTV), plus millions more after its release.  After other traditional means of marketing and distribution logistics, the domestic P&A costs were far north of $50 million.  Live By Night was dead on arrival with $5,106,046 — placing outside the top 10 at #11 for the frame led by the holdover Hidden Figures.  It was Affleck’s worst opening for a wide release since his star vehicle Surviving Christmas in 2004.  Live By Night collapsed 66.4% the following weekend to $1,718,017 and was then pulled out of 2,659 theaters going into its third wide session — which was the largest screen loss on record.  It sank 94.1% to $101,028.  The domestic run closed with just $10,378,555.

Live By Night fared no better in most overseas markets, where it cumed just $12.3 million.  Warner Bros took a $75 million loss on Live By Night.


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