By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com October 12, 2012 at 12:15PM
Warner Bros. (who, with GK Films, backed both "The Town" and "Argo") now seem to consider Affleck something of a favorite son, and have offered him most of their big-ticket projects in the last couple of years, including "Gangster Squad," "Man of Steel" and "Justice League." Affleck turned them all down, but finally bit when "Harry Potter" helmer David Yates stepped out of a brewing multi-part adaptation of Stephen King's classic apocalyptic novel "The Stand."
Previously adapted into a 1994 TV miniseries and, more recently, a Marvel comic book, Affleck and Warners hired Dave Kajganich ("The Invasion"), who's made something of a name for himself of late with King adaptations, penning new scripts for "Pet Sematary" and "It." It's a high-priority project at Warners, and Affleck said this week that it's one of only two projects (along with "Whitey") that he's actively developing.
But he also said the process is "very tough; it’s just a massive thing. So we are trying to figure out if it’s two movies or three movies. And there has to be a whole first movie, you can’t just say ’To be continued,’ because the whole arc of the book is a huge story but it is still a beginning, middle, and end. So we are trying to pull apart the movie and figure out how to make it." It sounds like it's still at the earliest stages, we can't see Affleck making this immediately. But then again, with acting projects keeping him busy in the early part of 2013, maybe a script could be ready to shoot by the end of next year? Even so, we're still doubtful that Affleck would commit multiple years of his life to two or three movies of the project, (or indeed, that Warners would greenlight a mega-budget movie that's sure to carry an R-rating, even with Affleck at the helm). It's possible it could be next, but the smart money is that it never happens at all.
Affleck hasn't abandoned acting for directing altogether: he wrapped recently on online gambling thriller "Runner Runner" with Justin Timberlake, starred in Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder," and recently stepped in for Ryan Gosling on con-man romance "Focus," from "Crazy, Stupid, Love." helmers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. But could some of the projects he's involved with in other roles end up providing his next directorial effort?
One announced only in the last few weeks is "Race to the South Pole," an Antarctic drama set up at Warners through Affleck and Matt Damon's Pearl Street company. Based on a pitch by Peter Glanz (the upcoming 'The Longest Week"), it involves the rivalry between Robert Falcon Scott (to be played by Casey Affleck) and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, as they battled to become the first to reach the South Pole. Glanz is directing "The Longest Week," but there's no indicator that he's attached to helm this too, and Affleck might well be mulling up the director's chair himself. That said, there doesn't seem to be a script for the film yet (it was described as a 'pitch' by the trades), and Affleck is meant to be only considering directorial efforts he can also act in, so maybe it is just a case of him serving as a producer.
Perhaps more likely is "Nathan Decker," a script by hot scribe Dan Fogelman ("Crazy, Stupid, Love.," "The Guilt Trip"). Warners (yep, them again) picked up the film in 2011 with the intention of Tom Cruise starring, but Affleck became attached back in March to play the title role of a politician caught having an affair who returns to his hometown. With "Argo" showing a lighter side to Affleck's directorial talents, a more comedically leaning film might be the natural next step, particularly as it retains more serious political overtones too. And no director is attached to the project, so assuming a script's ready to go, Affleck could jump right on. That said, Affleck's following a similar pattern to George Clooney in terms of switching to directing, and Clooney's delve into lighter fare with "Leatherheads" didn't turn out too well for anyone... Still, it could be a real possibility if he wants to get back behind the camera sooner rather than later.
There's a few projects that Affleck's been involved with over time that he's since dropped out of: POV-actioner "Line of Sight" was one possibility, but he was recently replaced with "Act of Valor" director Mike McCoy on the film, while he was in discussions to direct the pilot for "Homeland" at one stage. But one that's been in the works since before "The Town" could yet resurface: baseball drama "The Trade."
The film, about New York Yankees players Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich, who in 1973 revealed that they'd been indulging in wife-swapping and had fallen for each other's spouses, first surfaced as a possible reunion for Affleck and Matt Damon in the spring of 2010, and the former signed on to rewrite the script with brother Casey, soon after the release of "The Town."
Things started to gear up early in 2011, with Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz and Rebecca Hall mentioned as potential female leads, but around the same time, it emerged that Kekich and other former Yankees were being uncooperative, which risked shutting down movement on the project altogether.
There's been little word on the film since, and Affleck hasn't mentioned it on the "Argo" press tour, but it could serve as a handy warm up to "Whitey" if it's ready to go and if the possibly legal obstacles have been cleared up.