EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros Pictures chief Jeff Robinov didn’t waste any time moving to make Ben Affleck‘s next picture after Argo snagged the Best Picture Oscar for the studio in February. I’ve learned that pre-production starts today on Affleck’s adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night with an eye to an August-September start date. So far only Affleck is cast. He also directs and produces as well as writes and stars in. Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr first reported that Affleck was in talks with his favorite studio on the project and eyeing it as his next directing vehicle months before Argo captured gold. Warner Bros acquired Live By Night in April 2012 when it was in galley form for Appian Way to be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran. Appian Way had a pre-existing relationship with Affleck and will now produce with Affleck’s Pearl Street, the Warner Bros-based company that Ben shares with Matt Damon. This is Affleck’s second adaptation of a Lehane novel: Ben in 2007 made his directorial debut with the gripping Gone Baby Gone based on the mystery series written by the author. Live By Night uses some of the characters from Lehane’s sprawling period novel The Given Day. The focus is Joe Coughlin, the black-sheep son of a police captain who gets involved in escalating levels of organized crime. The deal with Lehane and his agent Amy Schiffman at IPG made back then brought Warner Bros rights to The Given Day. That sprawling novel had originally been optioned by Sam Raimi but didn’t go anywhere. Lehane will complete the series as a trilogy but Affleck’s focus right now is just Live By Night which William Morrow published last fall. Affleck is repped by WME’s Patrick Whitesell. Warner Bros’ Sarah Schechter is overseeing it.
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