Ben Affleck Argo, The Town is getting behind the camera for a new movie called King Leopold’s Ghost, a true story of rebellion against genocide in the Congo in the late 1800s. Affleck will produce alongside Martin Scorsese, and the script will be written by Apocalypto screenwriter Farhad Safinia. Get the details below.
Deadline says Affleck has added this film to his plate of upcoming directorial efforts, but there’s no word on which movie he’ll actually direct next. He’s currently developing Ghost Army and a film about the Monopoly game scandal, too.
King Leopold’s Ghost is based on Adam Hochschild’s book of the same name, and this excerpt from the book’s synopsis provides an overview of what to expect:
In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million—all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated. King Leopold’s Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust.
Leopold became the richest man in the world through these brutal tactics, all while operating under the guise of spreading Christianity to the African continent. His hypocrisy was ultimately exposed to the world, and served as the inspiration for Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness which in turn inspired Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.
If, like me, you’re wondering why Ben Affleck of all people is interested in telling this particular story, Deadline provides some interesting context. Evidently Affleck has been passionate about this region for a long time, and he’s actually done something about it, too: he founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, “an advocacy and grant-making initiative focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo to spur economic and social development and increase the quantity of public and private funding to support those goals.” He’s been working on this movie for “several years,” at one point even thinking it would be a limited series before eventually working it out as a movie.
I’d never heard of these atrocities before – ten million people died! – and I suspect I’m not alone in that. Here’s hoping this project informs and inspires others when it eventually makes its way onto the big screen.
With theaters already starting to close-up shop around the country - and others reducing capacity by half - and moviegoers already wary of heading to theaters where social distancing is difficult, the weekend box office fell to a 22-year-low, earning about $54 million. Depending on how low that number is officially, it’s either the worst weekend in 11 years or since the weekend after 9/11 or even worse, a September weekend in 1998 in which Matt Damon’s Rounders topped the box office with $8 million. It’s going to get a lot worse in the coming weeks, too, as theaters continue to shutter and studios postpone release dates. America will survive the Coronavirus, but the theater industry has a very bumpy road ahead of it.
In any respect, Pixar’s Onward did top the box office again, although it suffered a significant 73 percent drop in its second weekend. It earned $10.5 million to bring its total to $60.3 million, and while that is hugely disappointing, there’s no sense in trying to compare it the performance of other films, because nothing like this has ever happened to the film industry.
Interestingly, however, there was one film that seemed to do OK despite Coronavirus concerns, and that was the faith-based I Still Believe with Britt Robertson, K.J. Apa, Melissa Roxburgh, and Gary Sinise, which earned $9.5 million. I Still Believe likely benefited from presales from church groups, and it also performed better in the Midwest and the South, where Coronavirus concerns may not yet be as high. It did receive an A Cinemascore - typical for Christian films - and a middling 40 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes but a 99 percent from audiences on RT.
Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot was probably hit the hardest by the. Coronavirus. It earned only $9.3 million, but the real hurt came overseas. Diesel is a big star in China and Europe, and Bloodshot won’t even get a chance there. It only earned. $13 million overseas. The $45 million film is going to be big loser for Sony, and it has little to do with the bad reviews 31 percent on RT or middling Cinemascore B.
Universal/Blumhouse’s Invisible Man is slowing down quicker than it should, earning $6 million to bring its total to $64 million. The film dropped 60 percent this weekend, but to the film’s credit, that was the small drop of the weekend. Another Universal/Blumhouse film, The Hunt came in fifth place with $5 million on a $14 million price tag. First, Donald Trump tried to kill the film, co-written by Damon Lindelof and directed by Craig Zobel, and then it was delayed because of a mass shooting, and when it’s finally released, The Hunt got clobbered by a pandemic. If Blumhouse were smart, he’d immediately make it available on streaming platforms, because while I wasn’t willing to brave the Coronavirus to see it in theaters, I’d definitely watch The Hunt at home.