Warner Bros. has delayed the release of its Ben Affleck-led addiction drama The Way Back from October 18th of this year to March 6, 2020, the studio announced Monday.
Gavin O’Connor directed the film, which finds Affleck playing a former basketball star who, after struggling with alcohol addiction, attempts to redeem himself by coaching the high school basketball team at his alma mater.
According to Deadline, which broke the news, The Way Back has scored well with test audiences — for what it’s worth, I’ve heard good things as well — and the studio thought it best to promote the movie to basketball fans next spring, when the NCAA’s March Madness kicks off and NBA teams are jockeying for playoff position.
Rather than open against Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Sony’s Zombieland 2: Double Tap, Warners will now release The Way Back against Disney/Pixar’s Onward and Paramount’s Dylan O’Brien movie Monster Problems. Pixar is a box office juggernaut, of course, but The Way Back could prove to be a savvy counter-programming move.
Another reason that Warner Bros. may have decided to shift The Way Back is that the studio has several adult-oriented dramas coming out this fall, including The Goldfinch, Motherless Brooklyn, The Good Liar and Just Mercy, and it’s entirely possible that Clint Eastwood‘s Richard Jewell movie could be ready before the end of the year as well. The studio’s marketing and publicity teams will also have their hands full with It: Chapter Two, the Joker movie and Doctor Sleep, so it’s probably for the best that Affleck’s movie won’t be lost in the shuffle.
O’Connor co-wrote The Way Back with Brad Ingelsby, and he also produced the film with Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray, Ravi D. Mehta, Jennifer Todd and Affleck, while Aaron L. Gilbert and Jason Cloth served as executive producers.
Affleck fans will be able to catch the Justice League star in Dee Rees‘ crime drama The Last Thing He Wanted, which pairs him with Anne Hathaway. He also reprises his Chasing Amy role as Holden McNeil in Kevin Smith‘s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, which arrives in October. I love that no matter how big he gets, Affleck never forgets where he came from, and he has always stayed loyal to the View Askewniverse.