It's official. Ben Affleck is no longer directing The Batman. Leading up to this announcement, the actor-director has remained fairly uncertain about the fate of his solo Batman movie. He will remain attached to the project as an actor and a producer.
This news comes from Variety just a few days after Ben Affleck's directorial effort Live by Night was declared the first big bomb of 2017. Both Live by Night and The Batman are Warner Bros. movies. It isn't known if Live by Night's box office numbers had any direct impact on Ben Affleck's decision to step down from the director's chair.
And apparently it was mostly his decision, not entirely Warner Bros. At least that's what sources close to the project are saying. Ben Affleck debuted as Bruce Wayne in last year's Batman V Superman, and will next be seen playing the caped crusader in November's Justice League. Ben Affleck is determined to make the best Batman movie possible. And it's stated that Warner Bros. and Affleck came to a mutual decision for him to take a step back and let someone else grab the reigns. Ben Affleck said this in his statement about exiting as The Batman director.
"There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world."
Some sources claim that the box office failure of Live by Night was never factored into this decision at all, and that a changing of the guard all has to do with finding the best possible team, doing what is right for the project. The search for a new director is said to have officially started. It is believed that a shortlist does exist, and at the top is Matt Reeves, who is directing this year's sequel War for the Planet of the Apes. No other directors are mentioned. Warner Bros. said this in their official statement.
"Warner Bros. fully supports Ben Affleck's decision and remains committed to working with him to bring a standalone Batman picture to life."
Ben Affleck has wrapped on Justice League, though reshoots are likely. The Batman is scheduled to begin production this summer. But an exact start date hasn't been announced. Ben Affleck is still being credited as the writer of The Batman, having worked alongside DC Films boss Geoff Johns. It isn't known at this time if rewrites will happen, but it sounds like they pair have finished the script.