It’s probably safe to say that last year, Warner Bros. knew they had a good movie on their hands with “The Town,” but that they didn’t expect it would turn into a $150 million worldwide hit and Oscar contender. Riding high off positive notices at Venice and TIFF, “The Town” rolled into theaters just a few days after unspooling in Toronto and became a box office hit, and when it all ended, the movie made some considerable bank and even landed an Oscar nomination for Jeremy Renner. Not bad. Not messing with what worked last time, WB has dated “Argo,” Ben Affleck’s next directorial effort, for September 14, 2012, and it’s likely they are hoping to carbon copy “The Town”‘s success.
Based on a fascinating Wired article “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran,” “Argo” centers on the real-life C.I.A. plan to rescue a group of diplomats from Tehran after the 1979 Iranian revolution by claiming that they were part of a Hollywood movie crew shooting a film. The actor/director has rounded up a helluva cast for this one that includes himself along with folks like Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Scoot McNairy and Kyle Chandler with Taylor Schilling, Nelson Franklin, Tate Donovan, Chris Messina, Michael Parks and Richard Kind rounding things out. The story has a bigger touch of humor to it than the serious “The Town” or “Gone Baby Gone” but the political and dramatic undertones give the material the depth we’ve come to expect from Affleck.
Currently the only competition facing “Argo” that weekend is “Resident Evil: Retribution,” but they’ll be playing to different audiences anyway. “Argo” is the kind of movie that makes its money on its legs, not opening weekend, so WB is likely not sweating it. Either way with “Argo” and “Gangster Squad” already on the fall 2012 slate, WB is going to be a big player in next season’s awards race.