Ben Affleck's Box Office Takes off with Argo

By Sandwell, Ian | Screen International, January 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ben Affleck's Box Office Takes off with Argo


Sandwell, Ian, Screen International


Ben Affleck's switch to the director's chair has brought steadily increasing gains at the global box office. Ian Sandwell assesses his appeal.

A lot can change in a decade - just ask Ben Affleck: 2003 marked the release of arguably the lowest point in his acting career in the form of Gigli, Martin Brest's critically mauled romantic comedy, which also starred Jennifer Lopez and managed to earn just $7.3m worldwide.

Flash forward to 2013 and Argo has become Affleck's most successful film as director with $171.6m to date at the global box office, as well as being the eighth most successful film in which he has starred. It also won the Golden Globe for best motion picture - drama, while Affleck picked up the best director Globe. Argo also has seven nominations each at the Baftas and the Oscars, though he missed out on a best director nod at the Oscars.

Critics have warmed to Affleck as director from his debut, 2007's child abduction drama Gone Baby Gone. But that film's $34.6m global box office suggests audiences were slower to catch on, although that could perhaps be explained by Gone Baby Gone's difficult subject matter. Outside of its $20.3m domestic return, the UK, France and Australia led the international field with $3.6m, $2.8m and $1.3m, respectively. And they have continued to prove fruitful territories for Affleck's two other directorial efforts.

Crime thriller The Town, which also starred Affleck, saw grosses of $7.5m in the UK and $7.4m in Australia in 2010, with France delivering the highest tally outside of the US at $8.9m. A few other European territories seemed to be warming up as well: Spain delivered $5.1m, Italy $3.2m and Germany $2.8m. There were $1.9m grosses from Russia and from outside Europe as well in Japan and Mexico.

The best was yet to come. For Affleck's first time as director, the 10 highest grossing international territories for Argo all recorded takes of more than $1m. This time around, it was Australia's turn to lead the field at $11.5m, with France and the UK close behind with $9.1m and $8.7m, respectively. Russia ($1.7m), Spain ($4.5m) and Germany ($1.3m) dipped from The Town's result, but Italy and Mexico enjoyed slight rises at $3.8m and $2.2m, respectively. The healthiest boosts, outside of the leading three international markets, came from Brazil (up by more than $1m from $814,562 for The Town to $1.9m for Argo) and Japan (up from $1.9m for The Town to $3.2m for Argo).

Domestically, The Town edged Affleck towards $100m at $92.2m, and Argo saw him break the $100m barrier for the first time as a director with the tally standing at $111. …

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