Last week, “Runner Runner” dropped into theaters, promising the team-up of Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck—with the latter playing a rare villain role—in a thriller about online gambling gone awry. Stars? Check. Hot subject matter? Sure. But it didn’t add up to a hit, with the movie crushed in the wake of “Gravity,” opening to just over $7 million and earning scathing reviews to go with it. But were people behind the scenes trying to fix it?
According to THR, Affleck brought in William Goldenberg, the Academy Award-winning editor on his three directorial efforts, to assist the credited Jeff McEvoy in assembling a cut. It’s not clear exactly what was improved—nothing could’ve really saved what was ultimately a fairly cliched and uninvolving story—but Goldenberg is said to have at least made things a bit better (which again, seems like a relative term). But were there even more machinations going on?
Latino Review claims that Warner Bros. “pressured” director Brad Furman to “soften” Affleck’s character “so audiences wouldn’t hate him,” presumably concerned about the reception of his eventual heroic turn in “Batman Vs. Superman.” But given that is actually a 20th Century Fox film, something in that equation doesn’t make sense, and we don’t see WB being able to exert any influence in that regard, because why would Fox care about a rival studio’s franchise movie? And considering that the “Man of Steel” sequel is still two years away and Affleck will still have another movie in the interim—David Fincher‘s “Gone Girl,” also for Fox—we somehow doubt WB is tracking his every project until ‘Batman.’
Stranger things have happened, we suppose. Either way, in two years, “Runner Runner” will be a faint memory.