What was merely a possibility back in January has now been confirmed: Ben Affleck's next film, his first since basking in Argo glory, will be an adaptation of Dennis Lehane's Prohibition-era crime epic Live By Night. Production is set to start at the end of the summer.
That's pretty quick turnaround time! Argo won't even have been out a year before Affleck is filming a new project. I guess when the momentum is good, you run with it. And this particular project is probably a smart choice. It's safe and familiar-seeming in some ways — Affleck has adapted Lehane before (Gone Baby Gone) and the story is partly set in Boston and involves the crime world — but it also allows him to stretch the way Argo did. There's the new time period to work with, and the story eventually moves to South Florida, so he'll have a whole new culture and community to explore. It's a nice blend of his past projects, while advancing his respectable career into more expansive territory.
One could see a director getting a bit too big for their britches after a success like Argo. We've seen it happen before. Darren Aronofsky went from early breakout success with Pi and Requiem for a Dream to the unwieldy and perhaps overly ambitious The Fountain. He righted his career only by going small again with The Wrestler. Karyn Kusama won the Sundance directing award for her Girlfight only to follow that up with the big action flick Aeon Flux, a movie that practically destroyed Charlize Theron's career and certainly didn't do wonders for Kusama's. Not that Affleck is some unknown indie director coming out of nowhere — he's working cozily within the studio system — but it's not hard to imagine an alternate future where Affleck opts for some opulent or risky project while riding high on Argo's success and takes a big tumble. But instead he's sticking with his roots and only expanding his scope slightly in terms of time and geography.
He's also cast himself in the film, not letting us forget that, y'know, he's an actor, too.