Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As Warner Bros prepares for tomorrow’s release of the Ben Affleck-directed Oscar -entry Argo, Affleck is in talks at the studio to make Live By Night the next film he will write-direct-produce and star in. The project is based on the new novel by Dennis Lehane that was just published by William Morrow. Affleck made his directorial debut with the superb Gone Baby Gone in 2007, based on the mystery novel series written by Lehane.

Warner Bros acquired Live By Night in April when it was in galley form, to be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran’s Appian Way. Appian Way, which had a pre-existing relationship with Affleck that came together during its production of Runner, Runner, will now produce with Pearl Street, the WB-based company that Affleck shares with Matt Damon.

Live By Night uses some of the characters from Lehane’s sprawling period novel The Given Day and brings them into Prohibition. 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 classic of a 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 will be Live By Night and he certainly has shown a flair for bringing Lehane’s fiction to the screen.

While Affleck works on this, he will likely act in Focus, the Glenn Ficarra and John Requa-directed grifter tale that he is negotiating to star in at Warner Bros. Affleck is repped by WME.

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