Beau is Afraid (formerly Disappointment Blvd.) – Everything We Know So Far

There is much speculation and anticipation surrounding Ari Aster’s next film, Beau is Afraid (formerly Disappointment Blvd.) Here is everything we know about it so far.

Beau is Afraid (2023) looks to be Ari Aster’s most wild movie yet.

Beau is Afraid is writer/director Ari Aster’s highly anticipated follow-up to his supernatural horror film Hereditary (2018) and the folk horror Midsommar (2019). Ari Aster is known for creating disturbing psychological horrors, and fans are excited so see what the director has in store next. But will Beau is Afraid even be a horror movie, or will Aster continue to subvert expectations by going in a completely different direction? The film is shrouded in secrecy, but here is a breakdown of everything we know so far about Beau is Afraid.

Table of Contents

Updates About Beau is Afraid

A24 First Look of Beau is Afraid

On March 29, 2023, A24 released a “First Look” at Beau is Afraid on their YouTube channel. The short video gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the movie with quotes from Ari Aster. Check it out here: Beau is Afraid First Look: “I want to put you in the experience of being a loser.”

The Beau is Afraid Trailer

The first trailer for Beau is Afraid was released on January 10, 2023.

Update as of December 13, 2022

The poster reveal for Disappointment Blvd. has shown us that the title of the movie will actually be Beau is Afraid. Early rumors speculated that Ari Aster’s next movie after Midsommar would be an adaptation of his 2011 short film Beau, and it appears those rumors are true. We formerly had a link to the short film Beau, but it looks like A24 has cracked down on uploads of the short.

Update as of November 20, 2022

World of Reel reported that Ari Aster’s current edit of Disappointment Blvd. clocks in at just under three hours. A bit more information about the story was also reported. According to Jordan Ruimy, the movie is about “a man afraid of the people around him, especially his mom, who randomly punches homeless people and dreams about VERY ODD things.” It is also described as a “Kafka-esque journey” and a “nightmarish comedy about a son, his mother, and guilt.” So, even though it sounds much different from his previous movies, it seems clear that Ari Aster isn’t done with horror just yet.

Update as of June 30, 2022

As of June 30, 2022, The Playlist reported that Ari Aster was still in post-production. To quote Aster, “the post-production is not finished, I do not even have the final editing. I still have work to do on sound and visual effects. I doubt I’m done for the September festivals.”

Additionally, Jordan Ruimy of World of Reel reported that A24 confirmed that Disappointment Blvd. will be released sometime in 2023. Costar Nathan Lane also speculated that the movie may be released under a different title, though he was not informed of what that title might be.

The Cast of Beau is Afraid

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019).
Joaquin Phoenix is known to transform his body for certain roles, like he did as Arthur Fleck in Joker (2019).

The the first big news released early in 2021 was that Academy Award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix would star in what was then known as Disappointment Blvd. This is a huge deal not only because it will be Phoenix’s first acting role performed after he won the Best Actor award in 2020 (his part in his next released picture, C’mon C’mon, was finished prior to winning the award), but because Phoenix is known for being very particular about the roles he chooses. Phoenix enjoys complex characters and directors with a unique vision, and at this point in his career, one can imagine Phoenix can be very picky with the movies he wants to be involved with.

Though it remains unclear exactly what the role is that Phoenix is playing, some images of Phoenix on location during production have emerged on social media. They point towards another body transformation for Phoenix, this time gaining weight and looking quite haggard. As always, you can’t always take images like this for what they look like, because the finished film almost always looks different from whatever candid shots emerge.

The rest of the cast started shaping up over the summer of 2021 and includes the following actors (according to articles from June 21 and July 21 on Deadline):

  • Nathan Lane (The Producers, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels)
  • Patti LuPone (Broadway, American Horror Story)
  • Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Lost Girls)
  • Kylie Rogers (Home Before Dark)
  • Parker Posey (Scream 3, The Eye)
  • Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences)
  • Denis Menochet (Inglorious Basterds)
  • Hayley Squires (In the Earth)
  • Michael Gandolfini (The Many Saints of Newark)
  • Zoe Lister-Jones (How It Ends)

The cast is undeniably strong, and it includes a group of actors known for a variety of genres. There is some horror in there along with gritty thrillers, but there is also a lot of comedy. That leads us to speculation about what the tone and story might be like.

What is Beau is Afraid About?

Toni Collette in Hereditary (2018), and Florence Pugh in Midsommar (2019).
If Ari Aster’s previous leading actors (Toni Collette and Florence Pugh) are any indication, Joaquin Phoenix is going to be dealing with some heavy material.

Understandably, Ari Aster and producers A24 are keeping plot details for Beau is Afraid closely guarded. If Aster’s new movie is anything like his previous two, then saying too much could ruin the journey the film will take audiences on.

The quote describing the film as reported by Deadline is that the movie is “an intimate, decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.” We can assume that Joaquin Phoenix is the entrepreneur in question, but otherwise, that’s not much to go on. A quote from Aster in 2020 described his next project after Midsommar as a “nightmare comedy,” but wasn’t entirely clear if he was referring to what was known at the time as Disappointment Blvd. With a fantastic comedy actor like Nathan Lane topping the supporting cast list, a nightmare comedy felt like a good fit. Joaquin Phoenix is no stranger to comedy either, starring in the strangely hilarious Inherent Vice in 2014.

Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice (2014).
In Inherent Vice (2014), Joaquin Phoenix played a drugged-up private investigator who is kind of a goofball.

Calling Beau is Afraid a “nightmare comedy” could just be Ari Aster being coy about what his intentions are. After all, he described Midsommar as a breakup movie, and Hereditary as a family drama. Those movies absolutely are both of those things, but they are also quite horrific. It’s probably safe to say that Beau is Afraid will follow in its predecessors footsteps. Other than that, the actual story is pure speculation at this point.

When Will Beau is Afraid be Released?

Beau is Afraid will be released in theaters on April 21, 2023.

Early in 2022, it was thought that Beau is Afraid would make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May of that year. The movie was not screened at the festival, and on May 24, 2022, Jordan Ruimy of World of Reel shared a brief article explaining why. Ruimy wrote that he was told that Ari Aster’s cut of the film clocked in at 210 minutes long, and A24 presumably wanted him to trim it down.

The official poster for Beau is Afraid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was the title changed from Disappointment Blvd. to Beau is Afraid?

Ari Aster hasn’t said anything about why Disappointment Blvd. was changed to Beau is Afraid. To speculate, it’s likely that Disappointment Blvd. was always just a working title meant to obscure any guesses as to what the movie is going to be about.

Even before production started and Disappointment Blvd. was the title given out by Aster and A24, people speculated that Aster’s next movie after Midsommar would be an adaptation of Aster’s 2011 short film titled Beau. With the release of the trailer and the knowledge that the actual title of the movie is Beau is Afraid, it makes sense that A24 would want to keep the real title hidden for as long as possible.

If you’ve seen Beau (2011) and you’ve seen the trailer for Beau is Afraid (2023), you can see at least a few similarities. Beau is about a man on medication who has a strange relationship with his mother (who appears to be a monster), and who becomes increasingly afraid of people and the outside world. The trailer for Beau is Afraid shows clips of Joaquin Phoenix as a man on medication with a strange relationship with his mother, and who appears to be afraid of everyone. There are even other parallels including both Beaus wearing pajamas and cancelling a trip to see their mother.

Obviously there is much more to the story in Beau is Afraid, but if you’ve seen Beau, then you might have a good idea about very minor spoilers for new movie begins. Alternatively, since people would understandably speculate about the movie based on the short, it’s possible A24 didn’t want people getting the wrong idea about the movie and they didn’t want misinformation spreading too early.

What is Beau is Afraid About?

The official synopsis from A24 is: “A paranoid man embarks on an epic odyssey to get home to his mother in this bold and ingeniously depraved new film from writer-director Ari Aster.”

As with Ari Aster’s other movies, what Beau is Afraid is really about is probably much deeper than this simple plot summary can describe.

How long will Beau is Afraid be?

Though there is no official word on runtime, rumors put Beau is Afraid at nearly three hours long. With Hereditary running 127 minutes and Midsommar reaching 148 minutes, 180 minutes is entirely possible.

Who are the actors playing Beau in Beau is Afraid?

Beau is depicted at various ages in Beau is Afraid. Joaquin Phoenix plays Beau at most ages, and Armen Nahapetian plays Beau as a teenager.

Will Beau is Afraid be on Netflix?

Beau is Afraid will release exclusively in theaters on April 21, 2023. After its theatrical window, it is unlikely it will stream on Netflix. Most recent A24 releases move to the Showtime streaming app after leaving theaters, and they become available for digital purchase on sites such as Amazon. No streaming release dates have been announced yet.

What is Ari Aster known for?

Ari Aster is known for writing and directing the horror films Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019). Aster’s style as a filmmaker includes intense psychological horror, disturbing imagery, strong metaphors, meticulously designed films that build to a grand finale.

Meet The Author

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.