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Ben Affleck Candidly Responds To Ridley Scott’s F-Bomb About The Last Duel Flopping

Ben Affleck, blonde hair and goatee in The Last Duel
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel is a movie that reviewed incredibly well. The movie, and the performances from the likes of Adam Driver and Jodie Comer were hailed as some of the best of the year. Unfortunately, it was not a movie that audiences have embraced, as the movie has not done well at the box office. Ben Affleck, who also appeared in the movie, and also has had his performance widely praised, has a much more nuanced take on the reason for that than his director.

When Ridley Scott talked about the movie’s financial failure he launched into a swear-y explanation about how millennials can’t stay off their cell phones, implying that current audiences are simply unwilling to pay attention to his serious movies. When THR asked Ben Affleck the same question, he left the F-bombs out, but admitted that the core of what Scott said might actually be true, because audience behavior is changing, though it has less to do with cell phones. Affleck explained…

Really, the truth is that I’ve had movies that didn’t work that bombed, that weren’t good. It’s very easy to understand that and why it happened. The movie is shit, people don’t want to see it, right? This movie, The Last Duel, I really like. It’s good and it plays — I saw it play with audiences and now it’s playing well on streaming. It wasn’t one of those films that you say, ‘Oh boy, I wish my movie had worked.’ Instead, this is more due to a seismic shift that I’m seeing, and I’m having this conversation with every single person I know. Though there are various iterations, the conversation is the same: How is [the movie business] changing?

How Audience Behavior Is Changing 

Ben Affleck isn’t afraid to admit that he’s been in movies that bombed at the box office because they were just bad, but he knows The Last Duel isn’t one of those movies. He believes it’s good, and he actually says the movie is working, it’s just working in a different way than we’re used to seeing films succeed. It'd doing much better at home.

It’s true that The Last Duel hasn’t been a box office smash, but Ben Affleck thinks that the way the industry is changing, audiences, and specifically those audiences looking for movies like The Last Duel, are more willing to skip the movie theater and watch the movie at home. Between the fact that it’s potentially a more comfortable experience, people just aren’t sacrificing as much as they once did by skipping the theater. Affleck continues… 

One of the fundamental ways it’s changing is that the people who want to see complicated, adult, non-IP dramas are the same people who are saying to themselves, ‘You know what? I don’t need to go out to a movie theater because I’d like to pause it, go to the bathroom, finish it tomorrow.’ It’s that, along with the fact that you can watch with good quality at home. It’s not like when I was a kid and the TV at home was an 11-inch black-and-white TV. I mean, you can get a 65-inch TV at Walmart for $130. There’s good quality out there and people are at home streaming in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It’s all changed.

Movies Like The Last Duel Are Finding Success Outside Of The Box Office 

Ben Affleck certainly isn’t the first person to voice this opinion, but there’s a lot of reason to believe he’s correct here. For a long time the perception has been that the movies that you “needed” to go to a theater to see were the massive action blockbusters or other films where grand visual splendor was a focus.. For the, as Affleck calls them, “complicated, adult, non-IP dramas” you could wait and watch those at home. And with the global pandemic still keeping a lot of people out of theaters entirely, or at the very least making them more choosey regarding what they go to the theater to see, this idea has only been reinforced.  

Also as Ben Affleck points out, waiting until later simply isn’t the sacrifice it once was. You can watch a movie in 4K Dolby Atmos at home just like you can in a theater. The only major difference is the size of the screen, which is still pretty reasonable. 

While the idea that blockbuster movies were taking over cinemas was largely feared because it might mean the death of those more adult dramas, the fact is that with the new focus that so many studios have on streaming, that may not be the case. Streaming is a money maker and so if people use these platforms to watch movies like The Last Duel, the studios will still want to make those movies for those audiences in order to keep the streaming dollars coming. 

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.