Will Ben Affleck end up writing and directing ‘The Stand’?

There’s nothing I love more than coming home from a night out with the kids to find angry half-literate e-mails from people calling me names over something they don’t understand.  So you can imagine this has been a gorgeous Friday night.

After all, we were the ones who told you that David Yates and Steve Kloves were going to be the creative team in charge of Warner’s big-screen treatment of the Stephen King epic novel.  And when we reported it, offers had been made and deals were in motion.  It was accurate at that moment.

Then things went radio silent.  And while I’m not in a position to tell you what went on behind the scenes, I can tell you that following the success of the last four “Harry Potter” films, both Yates and Kloves are expensive, particularly when working together, and one of the keys to getting any giant tentpole film off the ground right now is finding creative ways to bring costs down.  When your writer and director together are worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 – $20 million before you make any other deals on the film, that is not an inexpensive place to begin.

Now Deadline is reporting that Ben Affleck is the studio’s choice to both direct and write the film.  Or films, I should say, since this isn’t a one-movie project.

They’re a lot less close to signing a deal with Affleck than they were with Yates and Kloves, though, and you’ll notice how carefully Fleming’s piece is worded.  All he really says is that Warner Bros. would like for Affleck to do it.  That’s it.  There is no offer on the table yet, and there’s no deal in place.  Affleck is neck deep in his new movie “Argo” right now, and no doubt some of this comes from the dailies the execs are watching as the movie comes together.

One thing I’ve learned after almost fifteen years of reporting on this stuff and even longer living and working in LA is that things change, even after you think they’re set in stone, and the deal-making process can be very complicated on big giant films when you’ve got participants who come to the table with certain price tags attached.  “The Stand” is an important project for Vertigo, the production company who has the rights, and Warner, who is set to distribute the film, and I’m sure they are continuing to explore whatever possibilities might get the film made and in theaters.

But if our own reporting on this was premature, as it now appears it was, then so is this.  Ben Affleck is not signed to make this film, and he could easily just end up as one more name in a long line of names that were potentially involved.

We’ll keep our eye on this as it continues to come together, and when there’s an actual deal that’s been made, rest assured we’ll have that news for you.  In the meantime, I wouldn’t count anyone out, and I wouldn’t start printing posters, either.