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Live by Night
A man in a white suit, sitting a large brown armchair, pointing a gun.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBen Affleck
Screenplay byBen Affleck
Produced by
  • Ben Affleck
  • Elle Fanning
  • Brendan Gleeson
  • Chris Messina
  • Sienna Miller
  • Zoe Saldana
  • Chris Cooper
CinematographyRobert Richardson
Edited byWilliam Goldenberg
Music byHarry Gregson-Williams
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • December 13, 2016 (2016-12-13) (New York City)
  • December 25, 2016 (2016-12-25) (United States)
Running time
129 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$65 million[2]
Box office$168,412[3]

Live by Night is a 2016 American crime drama film written, directed, co-produced by and starring Ben Affleck, based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. The film also stars Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper and follows an Ybor City bootlegger who becomes a notorious gangster.[4]

Produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film premiered in New York City on December 13, 2016 and had a limited release on December 25, 2016, and will have a wide release on January 13, 2017.


Set in the 1920s and 1930s, the story follows Joe Coughlin, the prodigal son of a Boston police captain a World War I veteran from Irish decent who is in love with Emma Gould (Sienna Miller) mistress of the notorious gangster Albert White (Robert Glenister) who is the boss of the Irish Gang of Boston. His dad disapproves of Emma. Joe and Emma decide to move to California escaping the wrath of White, but to their misfortune the head of Albert's rival Italian Mafia Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone) finds about them and blackmails Joe to kill Albert. But Joe refuses as he was done with killing after he war to which Maso threatens to inform Albert. On the day of their escape Albert catches Joe (following a trap created by him and his goons that involved Emma betraying him) and nearly beats him to death before the police arrives and Joe is arrested for the murder of three policemen in his last heist with his partner Dion Bartolo (Chris Messina).

Joe is indicted with lifetime imprisonment which later gets reduced to three years after his father forces the chief inspector. A heartbroken and badly injured Joe serves his time only to find his father pass away and is revenge struck. He calls for help to Pescatore who is building his rum empire from Ybor City, Tampa, Florida and wants Joe to take over as his strongman in Tampa where White is endangering his business. After moving to Tampa with his old partner Dion,Joe establishes his business well and is asked by Pescatore to bring in gambling and drugs in to the business. He is interested in a cuban businessman's girlfriend Graciella Corrales (Zoe Saldana) and marries her. Joe befriends the Sheriff of Tampa Irving Figgis (Chris Cooper) who helps him in building a big gambling hotel in collaboration with Ritz. Irving's daughter Loretta (Elle Fanning) moves to L.A. to become an actress. Irving's brother-in-law Loomis starts bombing Joe's clubs and shooting his men. Joe decides to end Loomis but Irving rejects to give him to which Joe tells Irving that Loretta became a drug addict and is kept in one of Joe's facilities. Joe and his goons kill Loomis who is working for White and the Ku Klux Klan.

Joe decides to force the government to legalize gambling .Loretta who now becomes a devout christian under her father's strict punishment is preaching god's way to the masses and revoking them against gambling and drugs showing herself as an example of the devil's fury. Her protests and gatherings forces the government to ban gambling in Florida. Joe's plan is now an improbable dream and the Ritz and other gangsters who supported him distants themselves from him.

Few days later when Loretta reveals to Joe during a chat in a restaurant that she does't believe in god and her sins could not be forgiven. Next day Joe gets the news of Loretta slitting her neck on her father's bed. During a visit to his brother-in-law who enjoys taking photographs Joe finds the picture of Emma who he believes is dead, he decides to pursue her in Miami but prefers to tell his wife first showing his character of a true and humble being.

To the surprise of Coughlin and his gang Pescatore visits Tampa and plans to kill Joe and Dion, even though the business had expanded tremendously. Joe aware of the danger still plans to meet Maso with his partner Dion. The meeting place is completely secured by Maso's men. In the meeting Maso strong hands Joe and asks him to leave the business or work under his son Digger owing to his failure in getting gambling legalized. Even though Joe agrees Maso surprises him with White who is there to kill Joe and replace him. Joe tries to buy time by showing Albert Emma's photograph during which his men who were hidden in the tunnels built under the fortress were able to kill Maso's men and force them to flee. Joe kills White, Maso and his son and handsover the business to Dion. he moves to Miami with his wife where they build houses for the poor and raise their son. Joe is able to trace Emma and tries to find out why did she abandon him. Emma is different from what she was back then and disappoints him asking him to leave. The Coughlins are attacked at their home and Graciella is killed in the attack. The movie ends with Joe taking his son to the movies where they watch a movie written by Joe's brother.


  • Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin
  • Elle Fanning as Loretta Figgis
  • Brendan Gleeson as Thomas Coughlin
  • Chris Messina as Dion Bartolo
  • Sienna Miller as Emma Gould
  • Zoe Saldana as Graciella Corrales
  • Chris Cooper as Irving Figgis
  • Robert Glenister as Albert White
  • Scott Eastwood as Danny Coughlin
  • Titus Welliver as Tim Hickey
  • Remo Girone as Maso Pescatore
  • Max Casella as Digger Pescatore
  • Miguel as Esteban Suarez
  • Gianfranco Terrin as Carmine Parone
  • Anthony Michael Hall as Gary Smith
  • Chris Sullivan as Brendan Loomis
  • Derek Mears as Donnie Gishler
  • J.D. Evermore as Virgil Beauregard



Warner Bros. acquired the rights to Dennis Lehane's Live by Night in April 2012 with the intention of developing the project as a starring vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio through his Appian Way Productions.[5] In October 2012, it was announced that Ben Affleck would direct, write and star in the project; he and Jennifer Todd would produce through their Pearl Street Films, along with Appian Way's DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran.[6][7]


In the summer of 2013, Affleck and film crew members visited Tampa, Florida[8][9] and Lawrence, Massachusetts to scout locations.[10][11] In August 2013, it was reported that production would be pushed back from the fall of 2013 to the fall of 2014, due to Affleck's acting commitments in Gone Girl (2014) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).[12][13] He visited various locations in Brunswick, Georgia in the summer of 2014.[14] Affleck stated in a September 2014 interview that the film had been green-lit: "It’s supposed to start shooting in July [2015] and I’ll start prepping in March. We got a budget, we got locations."[15][16] On September 4, 2014, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning joined the cast of the film.[17] Affleck visited Brunswick, Georgia again in February 2015.[18]

On July 9, 2015, Warner Brothers' decision to green-light the film was officially announced.[19] Miller, Saldana and Fanning were all still attached to the project.[19] From August to December 2015, other cast members were gradually revealed, including Chris Messina,[20] Chris Cooper,[21] Miguel,[22] Max Casella,[23] Scott Eastwood,[24] Brendan Gleeson,[25] Anthony Michael Hall[26] and Titus Welliver.[27]


Principal photography began on October 28, 2015 in coastal Georgia.[28] Exterior scenes were filmed in Brunswick, at Affleck's private property on Hampton Island near Riceboro,[29] on Tybee Island,[30] in Savannah and at Fort Pulaski National Monument.[31][32] Tampa's film commissioner said tax rebates in Georgia and Affleck's home on Hampton Island, a 45 minute drive from Brunswick, had led the filmmakers to choose the state instead of Florida.[33] Filming took place in Lawrence, North Andover, and Boston's North End.[34][35][36] From December 2015 to February 2016, filming took place in Los Angeles, California.[37] Scenes were shot at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel,[37] in Pasadena,[38] and in Wilmington.[39]

Cinematographer Robert Richardson used both the Arri Alexa 65 and vintage 65 lenses from Panavision.[40][41]

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William Goldenberg signed on as the film's editor; he previously worked with Affleck on Gone Baby Gone and Argo.[42][43] Harry Gregson-Williams composed the score; he previously worked with Affleck on Gone Baby Gone and The Town.[44] In March 2016, Affleck remarked: "Editing is a strange process. It's a lot of ups and downs, but overall, the movie has amazing performances. I just got so lucky with the cast. They're incredible ... The hardest part about the process now is trying to find stuff to cut out because I don't want the movie to be too long."[45]


In November 2013, Warner Bros. gave the film a Christmas 2015 release date. In May 2014, the release date was moved to October 17, 2016 and, in August 2015, it was pushed to an unknown release date in 2017.[46] In March 2016, Warner Bros. confirmed that the film would be released on October 20, 2017.[47][48] In June 2016, however, the release date was changed to January 13, 2017.[4] In October 2016, the film was pushed up to a limited release on December 25, 2016, before opening wide on January 13.[49]

Box office[]

Over its first two days of release the film grossed $49,000 (including $33,000 on its opening day) for a four-theater average of $8,250 and finishing 34th at the box office.[50]

Critical response[]

Live by Night received mixed reviews from critics. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 32% based on 44 reviews, and an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Live by Night boasts visual style and an impressive cast, but they're lost in a would-be crime saga that finds producer, director, and star Ben Affleck revisiting familiar themes to diminishing effect."[51] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 49 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[52]

Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film a mixed review and noted that it felt rushed to completion, saying, "I am a fan of the movies Ben Affleck has directed. That's why Live by Night is such a disappointment. I was actively looking forward to it. And I would have given it any benefit of the doubt, but this movie just isn't there. It feels like a rushed project that Affleck had to get out of the way before he plays Batman again."[53] Owen Gleiberman of Variety also gave the film a mixed review, writing: "It's like seeing the ghost of a terrific movie: All the pieces are in place, yet as you're watching it (or thinking back on it afterwards), there doesn't seem to be quite enough there."[54] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Live by Night is solid enough entertainment, but it lacks the nasty edge or narrative muscularity to make it memorable."[55] Eric Kohn of gave the film a C, writing: "Ultimately, Live by Night doesn't suggest Affleck's lost his groove so much as that his groove has its limits. Saddled with derivative material, he can't seem to find a fresh approach."[56]


  1. "Live by Night (15)". British Board of Film Classification. November 28, 2016. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  2. Sperling, Nicole (November 2, 2016). "See an exclusive new look at Ben Affleck's Argo follow-up Live By Night". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  3. "Live By Night (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lincoln, Ross (June 17, 2016). "Warner Bros Pushes 'Lego Movie 2' Release To 2019". Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  5. Jaugernauth, Kevin (April 13, 2012). "Leonardo DiCaprio Will 'Live By Night' In Dennis Lehane Adaptation For Warner Bros". Indiewire. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  6. "Ben Affleck And Warner Bros Set Next Film: Dennis Lehane Crime Novel 'Live By Night'". Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  7. "Jersey Boys' And Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night' Get Release Dates". November 5, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  8. Waxler, Erik (May 23, 2013). "Affleck visits Ybor City, but will he film there?". ABC Action News. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  9. "Ybor City passed up for fake set in Ben Affleck movie". ABC Action News. September 29, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  10. Annear, Steve (June 4, 2013). "Ben Affleck Has Been Scouting Movie Locations in Massachusetts". Boston Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  11. Messenger, Brian (May 25, 2013). "Ben Affleck scouts filming locations in downtown Lawrence". Eagle Tribune. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  12. Fleming, Mike, Jr. (July 11, 2013). "Ben Affleck To Star In David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' For Fox/New Regency Before Directing Warner Bros' 'Live By Night'". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  13. Jagernauth, Kevin (August 25, 2013). "Ben Affleck Signed For Multiple Films As Batman & Will Help "Create" The Character; 'Live By Night' To Shoot In 2014". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  14. Jagernauth, Kevin (November 5, 2013). "Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night' Set For Xmas 2015 Release, Filming To Start September 2014". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  15. Shanahan, Mark (September 26, 2014). "Ben Affleck back in front of camera with 'Gone Girl'". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  16. Buckley, Cara (October 3, 2014). "An Actor-Director Above Suspicion". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  17. Fleming, Mike, Jr. (September 4, 2014). "Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana & Elle Fanning Join Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night'". Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  18. Hall, Anna (February 11, 2015). "Ben Affleck scouts movie locations in Brunswick". The Brunswick News. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Kroll, Justin (July 9, 2015). "Ben Affleck's 'Live by Night' Gets Greenlight, November Start Date (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  20. Jaafar, Ali (August 28, 2015). "Chris Messina In Negotiations To Join Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night'". Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  21. Kroll, Justin (October 20, 2015). "Chris Cooper Joins Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  22. Hipes, Patrick (November 2, 2015). "R&B Star Miguel Joins Cast Of Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night'". Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  23. Pedersen, Erik (November 5, 2015). "Max Casella Mobs Up For 'Live By Night'; Carice Van Houten Finds 'The Parts You Lose'". Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  24. Geier, Thom (November 13, 2015). "Scott Eastwood to Play Ben Affleck's Brother in WB's 'Live By Night' (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  25. Fleming, Mike, Jr. (November 18, 2015). "Brendan Gleeson Joins Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night'". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  26. Pedersen, Erik (November 23, 2015). "Kurt Fuller Has Appointment With 'Phil'; Anthony Michael Hall Joins 'Live By Night'". Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  27. Geier, Thom (December 1, 2015). "Ben Affleck Casts Titus Welliver as Mob Boss in WB's 'Live By Night' (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  28. Lesnick, Silas (October 28, 2015). "Live By Night: Ben Affleck Shares the First Shot". Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  29. Miller, Michael (November 12, 2015). "Ben Affleck Working 'Every Possible Hour of the Day' on First Film Since Split with Jennifer Garner: Sources". People Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  30. Morning News, Savanna (November 10, 2015). "Ben Affleck, 'Live By Night' crew film on Tybee Island". Savannah Now. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  31. Morning News, Savanna (November 11, 2015). "Ben Affleck, 'Live By Night' continue filming along Georgia coast". Savanna Now. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  32. Rooker, Marla (November 1, 2015). "'Live by Night' filming at Fort Pulaski Bridge". WTOC. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  33. Guzzo, Paul (September 29, 2015). "Fake Ybor City rising in Georgia for Affleck's Prohibition-era film". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  34. Chen, Nancy (November 13, 2015). "Filming for new Ben Affleck movie begins in Lawrence". Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  35. Yearout, Kacie. "Ben Affleck movie takes over North End". MyFoxBoston. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  36. Shanahan, Mark (November 13, 2015). "Ben Affleck starts work in Lawrence on 'Live by Night'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  37. 37.0 37.1 "Ben Affleck debuts new 'Batman V Superman' trailer as 'Live By Night' filming moves to L.A." December 3, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  38. J, Jenna (September 8, 2016). "LIVE BY NIGHT (2017) FILMING LOCATIONS". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  39. Grobaty, Tim (February 7, 2016). "Gunshots at El Dorado! Relax, it's just a movie". Long Beach Press Telegram. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  40. Grobar, Matthew (February 15, 2016). "'Hateful Eight' DP Robert Richardson On The Tarantino-Disney Debacle: "It Hurt Quentin, Emotionally" – AwardsLine". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  41. Cinema, Digital (January 17, 2016). "Digital Cinema Show — Episode II — Interview with Robert Richardson, ASC Digital Cinema". Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  42. Middelton, Keri (November 14, 2014). "Filmmaking: Don't Wait. Just Edit". Avid Blogs. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  43. Giardina, Carolyn (December 30, 2015). "'Concussion' Editor Talks About Balancing Artistic License, Lawyers and the NFL (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  44. "Henry Gregson-Williams to Score 'Ailen: Covenant & Ben Affleck's Live By Night". Film Music Reporter. February 17, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  45. V. Nepales, Ruben (March 27, 2016). "Ben Affleck on Jennifer Garner as mom, project with Matt Damon". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  46. "Ben Affleck's 'Live by Night' Release Date Pushed Back". August 7, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  47. McNary, Dave (March 22, 2016). "Ben Affleck's Crime Drama 'Live by Night,' 3 More Warner Bros. Films Dated for 2017". Variety. Retrieved March 22, 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  48. Chitwood, Adam (March 22, 2016). "Ben Affleck's 'Live by Night' Gets Oscar-Friendly 2017 Release Date". Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  49. McClintock, Pamela (October 4, 2016). "Ben Affleck's 'Live by Night' Lands New December Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  50. "With 'Fences,' 'La La Land' Enter Top 10 As 'Rogue One' & 'Sing' Rule Holiday – Monday AM Update".
  51. "Live By Night (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 9 2017. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  52. "Live By Night reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  53. "Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night' Should Be Eight Hours Longer". Uproxx. December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  54. Gleiberman, Owen (December 21, 2016). "Film Review: Ben Affleck Directs and Stars in 'Live by Night'". Variety. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  55. Rooney, David (December 21, 2016). "'Live by Night' Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  56. Kohn, Eric (December 21, 2016). "'Live By Night' Review: Ben Affleck's Directing Skills Show Their Limits". Indiewire. Retrieved December 21, 2016.

External links[]

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