Penned by a couple of then-relatively unknown writers and produced with a modest budget, Good Will Hunting proved to be a surprising success at the box office. It also garnered several Oscar nominations, with the late Robin Williams picking up the prize for Best Supporting Actor.
Also taking home Oscar gold for the movie were screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Before their script earned them an Academy Award apiece, however, it was proving tricky to get someone to commit to making their movie.
Not that there was a lack of interest. Damon and Affleck had several studios involved, and several had made the pair offers. Yet they opted to go with Miramax, then run-with his brother-by producer Harvey Weinstein.
So why did they choose him over a big studio? Weinstein explained all on the U. K.’s The Graham Norton Show.
“Everyone in Hollywood wanted Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and the film”, he recalled. “In the meeting with them, I said ‘I only have one really big note on the script. About page 60, the two leads, both straight men, have a sex scene. What the hell is that?'”
Fair question, considering that up until that point, there had been nothing vaguely romantic about their relationship.
Turns out there was a very specific strategy behind Damon and Affleck’s apparent non sequitur. “That’s the scene”, they explained to Weinstein, “we wrote to see if guys like you read the script, because every studio executive we went to hadn’t read it. You’re the only guy who brought it up, so you get the movie”.
Good Will Hunting would go on to gross over $200 million worldwide, reportedly costing just $10 million to make.