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Ben Affleck to Direct Matt Damon in Kidnapping Thriller ‘Animals’ for Netflix

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are teaming up once again for “Animals,” a new crime thriller that Netflix has just acquired. Affleck will direct, with Damon starring, from a script by Connor McIntyre and Billy Ray.

Affleck will remain behind the camera for “Animals” — unlike his previous collaboration with Damon, Amazon Studios’ “Air,” in which Damon starred as Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro opposite Affleck in a supporting role as Nike founder Phil Knight. Like “Air,” Affleck and Damon are producing the project with Dani Bernfeld through their company Artists Equity, which they founded in 2022 with the intention of sharing profits with not just fellow actors, but below-the-line crew as well.

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Plot details are scarce for “Animals,” but the story will focus on a kidnapping.

Affleck and Damon famously became friends in high school and collaborated as screenwriters for the 1997 indie sensation “Good Will Hunting,” which won them an Oscar for best original screenplay. The two worked together on the “Project Greenlight” series for HBO in the early 2000s, and starred in a few films for Kevin Smith (1999’s “Dogma,” 2001’s “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”), but they didn’t collaborate creatively on a film again until the 2021 Ridley Scott period drama “The Last Duel,” which they wrote with Nicole Holofcener. Damon similarly took a lead role in that film, with Affleck in a supporting performance.

“Air” marked the first time Affleck directed Damon, which initially intimidated the filmmaker. “Before we were shooting, I was like, ‘Matt has worked with Spielberg, Scorsese, the Coen brothers,'” Affleck said in a Variety Directors on Directors conversation with Michael B. Jordan in December. “So now in his mind, he’s going to kind of be holding me up against these other experiences. … I remember the cinematographer, Bob Richardson, came over to me after the third or fourth day. He was like, ‘I think Matt trusts you now.’ I was like, ‘I think so too.’ I felt a professional kind of respect there that actually meant a lot to me.”

Brad Weston and Collin Creighton, who developed the project with Fifth Season, are also producing “Animals.” Artists Equity’s Michael Joe and Kevin Halloran are executive producing.

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