Disney’s The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, bombed big time at the box office on its opening weekend, grossing a paltry $4.8 million in wide release. The medieval epic incorporated woke gender politics by embracing the #MeToo movement and hiring a female screenwriter to add an anachronistic feminist perspective to the Affleck-Damon-penned screenplay.
The Last Duel, directed by Ridley Scott, reportedly cost more than $100 million to make and faces an uphill battle to recoup its costs. In their post mortems, the Hollywood trade publications blamed older audiences for continuing to stay away from cinemas while ignoring the the movie’s aggressive woke pandering that may also have repelled audiences.
Both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have played up the movie’s feminist credentials. At the Venice Film Festival, where the movie had its world premiere, Affleck reportedly declared: “The great illusion of chivalry was that while it was about protecting the innocent female, it was in fact a code that denied women’s basic humanity.”
He added that European countries of the time “didn’t view women for many many centuries as human beings,” neglecting to mention the powerful female rulers of the era.
Damon explained why they hired a female screenwriter. “In the male-centred stories, women appear when the men need them for something; otherwise they are ignored. They are property, they are not human beings.”
The production brought aboard filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, who is known for her quirky indie dramas including Friends with Money and Lovely & Amazing, to write the scenes involving the movie’s heroine, played by actress Jodie Comer.
Holofcener told Vanity Fair that the production worked with #MeToo groups and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. “We listened to them; they saw screenings; they pointed out some tricky parts. We addressed them. We really wanted to get it right,” she told the magazine.
The reviews, including one in The Washington Post, praised the The Last Duel for tackling “mansplaining” and “toxic masculinity.”
The New York Times commended the filmmakers for creating “what may be the big screen’s first medieval feminist revenge saga.”