For the first time in 24 years, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reunited to pen The Last Duel, which was directed by Academy Award nominee Ridley Scott. The film is set in the midst of the Hundred Years War that focuses on the last sanctioned duel between Jean de Carouges and Jacques Le Gris. The duel takes place due to Carrouges’ wife, Marguerite, who was violently assaulted by Le Gris, yet he actively denies the accusations. Marguerite refuses to stay silent over the heinous crime, with the trial by combat placing fate in God’s hands. The last vehicle that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote was Good Will Hunting, a box office success that went on to garner over $200 million worldwide based on a $10 million production budget, and the film was actually nominated for eight Academy Awards. Affleck and Damon walked out of the prestigious event with the best writing award. Coming in, The Last Duel had some solid critical backing, currently dawning a strong 87% on rotten tomatoes. With A-list talent attached both in front and behind the camera, this film should’ve been an easy success; however, The Last Duel barely made a dent in the box office, only seeing $4.8 million in the opening weekend. So, what happened? While there’s no confirmed answer on the reasoning behind The Last Duel’s disappointing opening weekend numbers, there are several factors that contributed to the weak sales. Obviously, the coronavirus is still one of them. Let’s dive deeper into the possible reasons the film failed to truly make a mark at the box office thus far.
The Was No Buzz Surrounding This Film
Despite having name talent attached to this film, there was just no buzz for The Last Duel. This should’ve been a hot film given the critical reception and the newly reunited Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as screenwriters. Hell, Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci is one of the most anticipated movies of the fall. Plus, Scott is no stranger to these historical dramas as Gladiator is one of the most celebrated movies of the early 2000s. However, there’s a reason why historical dramas don’t hit theaters all too much. Despite Game of Thrones popularizing historical dramas, it’s just not a hot genre across the board. Couple that with the fact that the market is currently crowded with big films, namely No Time To Die, Halloween, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, then The Last Duel was ultimately lost in the shuffle. It’s possible that this film will be a hit on streaming services or pull on a Greatest Showman by having long-lasting legs, but given the string of high-profile releases set for the upcoming weeks, it is highly likely that The Last Duel will gain any steam.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon Haven’t Built-Up Enough Good Will Behind The Camera
The careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are hit-and-miss. Both actors have more financial successes on their filmography, but there’s no denying that Affleck’s successes mostly come from his turn as an actor, not a writer. His biggest film with a writer/director credit remains Argo, which came out over ten years ago. The Town also received a solid financial return as well. Live By Night was both a critical and commercial bomb, which garnered less than $25 million worldwide. Gone Baby Gone fared no better despite the positive reception. Damon’s last written credit was Promised Land in 2012, which barely even made it to the $20 million mark. Unfortunately, Affleck and Damon aren’t in the league of Quentin Tarantino or Christopher Nolan, meaning that they don’t particularly have a huge fanbase when it comes to their written and directed works. There’s no doubt that both men are talented behind the camera as well, but they haven’t built up enough goodwill like the filmmakers mentioned above.
The Last Duel Feels like A Film For The #MeToo Demographic
I wouldn’t necessarily call The Last Duel a “woke” film, though it’s definitely more suited for the modern #MeToo era. The premise is pretty strong and the cast is top-notch but many audiences may feel that this movie is just another lecture that they don’t need to hear. In a way, The Last Duel has some sort of an identity crisis. Don’t get me wrong, the tone and style of the film is not a muddled mess; however, the movie seems aimed at older men, yet the subject tackles rape in a melodramatic fashion that appeals to women. By no means is The Last Duel a bad film, but the target audience isn’t exactly clear for the historical piece.