Martin Brest’s 2003 romantic crime comedy “Gigli” remains one of the most costly box-office flops of all time, netting just $7 million off a production budget of $75 million — partly due to its all-star cast. In a recent sit-down with pal Matt Damon for Entertainment Weekly, star Ben Affleck got honest about the “depressing” “disaster” of the movie’s failure, and how it threw him into a state of self-doubt — even while bringing him close to his then-and-now partner Jennifer Lopez.
“The truth about that movie and what it taught me was how much everything around a movie sort of dictates the way people see it,” Affleck said. “But for being a movie that’s such a famous bomb and a disaster, very few people actually saw the movie. It doesn’t work, by the way. It’s a sort of horse’s head in a cow’s body. And the studio at the time, because I had begun having this relationship with Jennifer Lopez, which was selling a lot of magazines and appeared to generate a lot of enthusiasm, they just predictably latched onto, ‘They want a romantic comedy. They want the two of them together. More of that!’ And it was just like that ‘SNL’ sketch.”
Negative fervor around the movie was less than quelled by the tabloid obsession with “Bennifer” — the It couple of the moment.
“It’s just that it became a story in and of itself. The funny name, the Jennifer Lopez romance and overexposure of that, it was kind of a perfect storm,” Affleck said. “And I remember talking to [the director] the Friday it came out and I was like it’s just spectacular, it’s a tsunami, it couldn’t be worse. This is as bad as it gets.”
Affleck added that the disastrous response to the movie actually fueled him to want to direct (better) movies.
“It engendered a lot of negative feelings in people about me,” Affleck said. “There’s that aspect of people that I got to see that was sad and hard, it was depressing and really made me question things and feel disappointed and have a lot of self-doubt. But if the reaction to ‘Gigli’ hadn’t happened, I probably wouldn’t have ultimately decided, ‘I don’t really have any other avenue but to direct movies,’ which has turned out to be the real love of my professional life. So in those ways, it’s a gift. And I did get to meet Jennifer, the relationship with whom has been really meaningful to me in my life.”