When the surprising news came out late last week that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel, most of the concern was related to the actor’s suitability for the role. However, it appears that this decision may have also had an impact on another major project. Within 24 hours of the Batfleck announcement, Warner Bros. revealed that the actor would no longer be directing the adaptation of Stephen King’s apocalyptic 1978 novel, The Stand. The Argo director first got involved in this project in 2011, but it eventually got delayed so he could focus his energies on an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night, a film that is still on track as his directorial follow-up to Argo. With Affleck committed to play Batman—a commitment that could last for several movies—it seems that he has agreed to walk away from The Stand, rather than delay it any further.
Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. has hired Scott Cooper—another actor-turned-director—to take Affleck’s place. In all likelihood, bringing Cooper on board is a calculated effort to attract a strong cast to The Stand, a film that the studio sees as an epic prestige picture. Cooper directed Jeff Bridges to an Oscar for Crazy Heart and his new film (Out of the Furnace) features another strong cast, including Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, and Forest Whitaker. Ideally positioned for Oscar consideration, Out of the Furnace arrives in theatres on December 6.