Trade sources report that Oscar winning writer/director Ben Affleck has landed his latest directorial project. The film will be a big screen adaptation of author Sam Wasson’s book The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood which takes an in-depth look at the making of Roman Polanski’s classic 1974 masterpiece, Chinatown. Of course along the way, and per the book’s subtitle, an examination of the last notable Golden Age of Hollywood (barring perhaps 1999 which was itself a transformative year in film) will also be looked at.
Affleck, whose last directing effort was 2016s Live by Night, will also serve as a writer on the behind the scenes project. He is coming to this film after receiving some of the best acting reviews of his career for the recent film, The Way Back. Saturday Night Live guru Lorne Michaels chased down the rights for the book and will produce alongside Ben Affleck for Paramount Studios.
Paramount, of course, was the studio behind Chinatown and it seems only fitting that this legendary film company gets the opportunity to tell a part of their own history. For his part, Ben Affleck has long had a noted love of Hollywood history and with his considerable writing and directing chops seems to be the perfect candidate to tell the story of a Hollywood in creative and business tumult as the heady days of Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider and The Graduate began to slowly recede in the rearview mirror of Tinsel Town and a more formulaic approach began to be applied to a large swath of films coming out of the industry from the mid-1970s on.
Hollywood has recently been enjoying a renewed love affair with its “American New Wave” era of film largely thanks to last year’s box office smash film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood directed by Quentin Tarantino and The Big Goodbye looks ready to continue that trend with enough insider references to make Robert Altman’s classic film The Player look like kiddie play.
The news about The Big Goodbye caps off also a veritable renaissance for Chinatown: It was reported earlier this year that acclaimed director David Fincher (who Affleck worked with in Gone Girl) would be co-writing a Netflix prequel series to the original Jack Nicholson film. That series is still in the works.
Our rascally compadres over at Deadline were the first to report on this news and Vents will endeavor to stay on top of any updates as production grows closer.