Almost four years ago, director Gavin O’Connor and star Ben Affleck teamed up together on a very different kind of movie before eventually reuniting for this week’s The Way Back. There’s more than a small chance you’ve heard of this previous effort, The Accountant, as it was a bit of a sleeper hit -- enough of one that a sequel has been seemed like it could be in the works ever since. Well, if you’re one of those fans who really wants to see The Accountant 2 happen, don’t hold your breath.
At least, that’s what my advice would be after sitting down with Gavin O’Connor himself during The Way Back press tour. Being a fan of The Accountant myself, I was anxious to hear if maybe some sort of progress had been made; especially after catching Ben Affleck re-teaming with the director to produce the gripping character drama that we were there to discuss.
In a very simple and polite manner, those hopes were left as questionable, as Gavin O’Connor gave an honest and frank answer:
I don’t know, man, I dunno. It’s not at the top of my list. You know, it’s been done.
It’s certainly not easy to create a movie like The Accountant, especially when you’re then asked to try and capture lightning in a bottle a second time. As well as the first film had done in theaters, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if The Accountant 2 was an idea hatched out agreement with a studio request, rather than appearing out of nowhere.
Originally, it sounded as Gavin O’Connor was totally on board for returning to the world of Ben Affleck’s Christian Wolff. Leading his double life of financial investigation and violence when needed, Wolff’s exploits had a clear path forward in O’Connor’s eyes, as he previously said he was keen on having the potential sequel address the timely issue of sex trafficking.
It wasn’t too long before Gavin O’Connor and Ben Affleck were reported as being in talks for The Accountant 2, as the following summer saw talks between them, writer Bill Dubuque, and producers Lynette Howell Taylor and Mark Williams get underway.
As recently as last year, hopes to continue forward with a second Accountant adventure were still very much alive, with Ben Affleck talking up those very chances himself. Of course, this was right after The Way Back, previously titled Torrance, had wrapped and was on its way to becoming a finished film.
That leads us to the current state of things, which you can see for yourself in this clip from my interview with Gavin O’Connor:
Strangely enough, O’Connor’s reticence to commit to The Accountant 2 feels very similar to something Ben Affleck had discussed with me that same day. As we had talked about the reasons why he’d left The Batman, juxtaposed with why The Way Back was the sort of movie he likes to make, the sentiment of blockbuster films being harder to make than original, personally invested projects might be the reason why this sequel isn’t exactly a priority.
The Accountant was a fresh, original hit no one was expecting. That would not be the case with the hypothetical sequel. Anything from an increased budget to fan anticipation would put more pressure on a second film to produce a certain level of results. That sounds like it would totally rob the fun out of the filmmaking process for all involved, and I can’t fault Gavin O’Connor for pumping the breaks on any sequel talk.
That still might not be enough to dim the hopes of fans who took to The Accountant’s story of family and acceptance, which was combined with some impressive action and conspiracy. As we’ve seen with recent fan activities on the internet, if a particular fanbase wants to see a sequel, that’s a buzz that’s especially hard to silence without a firm commitment in either direction.
No matter the doubts of The Accountant 2 happening as a movie, there still seems to be some sort of hope we might see Christian and his brother settling some scores again in the future. During his own recent press rounds, Ben Affleck mentioned that there was some discussion over whether or not The Accountant 2 should be a film or a potential TV series. Were the project to morph into an episodic adventure, there would certainly be some highlights and drawbacks to that sort of approach.
On the positive side of things, Gavin O’Connor wouldn’t have to direct the entirety of The Accountant’s future endeavors. If he really wanted to, he could just pop in for the pilot (or not at all), and let a talented group of successors take over from that point. Also, with Warner Bros. undoubtedly needing original content for the soon-to-launch streaming service HBOMax, a TV series boasting the likes of Ben Affleck could be the way to some potential subscribers’ hearts.
Then again, the negative side of this coin lies right in that particular matter, as the participation of Affleck would more than likely determine whether or not people will tune into what originally has been touted as a theatrical experience for The Accountant 2. If his schedule doesn't permit him to sign on for a long term streaming series, then at best the story would have to be reframed/recast, and at worst the project would fall apart at the seams.
It all adds up to the talk around another visit to the world of The Accountant feeling further off than I would like. Ultimately, if Gavin O’Connor and/or Ben Affleck aren’t interested, and can’t give their blessing to such a project, that’s more than a good sign that it shouldn’t move forward.
Passion is an important factor when creating any project, and right now O’Connor and Affleck are most passionate about the work they’ve done on The Way Back. But should time and distance rekindle their interest in Christian Wolff’s particular set of skills with or without paperwork, who knows what could happen? Just don’t hold your breath over it.
The Way Back opens in early showings tonight, with the full court rollout starting tomorrow.