Ever since The Last Duel was announced in 2019, there was much hype about the film’s release. Not only was it being helmed by Ridley Scott, but it was also bringing back the real-life best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to the big screen in starring roles. The last time that happened was when the iconic pair joined hands for Good Will Hunting more than two decades ago. On one hand, critics praised everything about The Last Duel from the performances to its plot. Some even compared it to Akira Kurosawa’s classic film, Rashomon! But when it comes to the film’s commercial status, it has been labeled as a box office bomb and according to Scott, the blame rests on millennials.
Recently, Ridley Scott sat down for a chat with Marc Maron on his WTF podcast (via The Hollywood Reporter) and spoke at length about the film’s less than satisfactory performance at the box office, despite the rave reviews from critics. Scott revealed that he was initially concerned that the Disney-acquired Fox studio wouldn’t promote the Matt Damon-Ben Affleck starrer properly but said they did a “fantastic” job. What actually failed the film, says Scott, is was how it was received by the audience.
The Last Duel was made on a budget of $100 million, but after its release on October 15, 2021, the film barely managed to scrape together $28 million at the box office. And according to Scott, the only reason the iconic pairing of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck ended up being a box office failure was the target audience included too many millennials “brought up on these f****** cellphones.”
“I think what it boils down to — what we’ve got today [are] the audiences who were brought up on these fucking cellphones. The millennian [sic] do not ever want to be taught anything unless you’re told it on a cellphone,” Scott said. According to Scott, this particular social media culture is a “misdirection” that is, unfortunately, shaping the fate of cinema by giving “the wrong kind of confidence” to the current generation. Thus, despite the low box office numbers, Scott stands by his film. He shared that he believes in not relying on what others are saying and instead opts to self-analyze his work. Thus, no matter what the critics and the audience is saying about the film and the performances of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and the rest of the cast, he doesn’t regret making The Last Duel.
“That’s the call you make,” Scott said. “That’s the call Fox made. We all thought it was a terrific script. And we made it. You can’t win all the time. I’ve never had one regret on any movie I’ve ever made. Nothing. I learned very early on to be your own critic. The only thing you should really have an opinion on is what you just did. Walk away. Make sure you’re happy. And don’t look back. That’s me.”
Based on Eric Jager’s book, The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat, Scott’s film narrates the tale of the last officially sanctioned duel to the death in France. After knight Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) returns from war, he discovers that his wife Marguerite de Carrouges (Jodie Comer) has been sexually assaulted by his best friend, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver). De Carrouges accuses hsi freind of the same and when everyone questions the truth about his wife’s claims, he challenges Le Gris to a duel.
The Last Duel stars Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges, Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris, Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges, Ben Affleck as Count Pierre d’Alençon, Sam Hazeldine as Thomin du Bois, Michael McElhatton as Bernard Latour, Harriet Walter as Nicole de Buchard, Nathaniel Parker as Sir Robert de Thibouville, and Alex Lawther as King Charles VI.