“Dunkirk” aside, deep summer looks like a fallow season for major films — but appearances are deceiving. This is perhaps their most-essential moment on the movie calendar, as it’s when distributors huddle, haggle, and negotiate to determine which movies will head for the almighty awards-season launch festivals of Venice, Telluride, Toronto, and New York.
From the festivals’ perspectives, they’re vying for the starriest red-carpet gala world premieres. (The exception is Telluride, which doesn’t have to vie; it gets to cherry pick its impeccably curated four-day Labor Day Weekend selection in secret.) Ahead of next week’s rollout of announcements, we called around for intel on what we can expect to see.
Of course, some films either won’t be ready to screen until year’s end, or will skip festivals and go straight to audiences. These include “Blade Runner 2049,” starring Ryan Gosling (October 6, Warner Bros.); “Wonder,” starring Julia Roberts (November 17, Lionsgate); and Ridley Scott’s J. Paul Getty kidnapping drama “All the Money in the World” (December 8, Sony).
And keep your eyes peeled for Paul Thomas Anderson’s tentatively titled “Phantom Thread,” featuring Daniel Day-Lewis’ alleged last performance, which is set to come out December 25. It might skip the festival circuit altogether — but PTA is so unpredictable (he snuck “There Will Be Blood” into Fantastic Fest 10 years ago) that anything’s possible.
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— Additional reporting by Eric Kohn and Kate Erbland
“Rebel in the Rye,” Dir. Danny Strong (September 15, IFC Films)
Nicholas Hoult stars as young “Catcher in the Rye” author J. D. Salinger. The film received fairly awful reviews at its Sundance premiere but went back to the editing room; if it has a festival screening before its release, an early slot at TIFF would be likely.
“Brad’s Status,” Dir. Mike White (September 15, Annapurna)
Ben Stiller stars as a divorced parent who hasn’t paid enough attention to his college-bound son. It’s produced by Plan B, which has a good relationship with Telluride (see: “12 Years a Slave”), although an early appearance at TIFF is possible. White’s last feature, 2007’s “Year of the Dog,” premiered at Sundance.
“Mother!,” Dir. Darren Aronofsky (September 15, Paramount)
While there’s been no announcement, we’d expect Jennifer Lawrence to turn up on the Lido; Aronofsky turns to Venice for his festival debuts (“The Wrestler,” “Black Swan”). However, the film just moved up its release date by nearly a month, from October 13 to September 15.
“Battle of the Sexes,” Dirs. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (September 22, Fox Searchlight)
Telluride or TIFF are most likely for Oscar winner Emma Stone as Billie Jean King, who challenges Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) to a tennis match. However, it would be the first fall festival slot for Dayton and Faris; “Little Miss Sunshine” was a Sundance premiere, and their last film, “Ruby Sparks,” premiered in 2012 at Switzerland’s Locarno.
“Victoria & Abdul,” Dir. Stephen Frears (September 22, Focus Features)
Frears directs Oscar winner Judi Dench as yet another Queen in a period drama. Frears took “The Program” to TIFF in 2015, but for “Victoria & Abdul” he’ll likely bring it to Venice — which premiered “Philomena” in 2013.
“Stronger,” Dir. David Gordon Green (September 22, Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions)
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a Boston marathon survivor. Green could return to TIFF, where he debuted his last feature, “Our Brand is Crisis.” His 2014 feature, “Manglehorn,” premiered at Venice followed by TIFF.
“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House,” Dir. Peter Landesman (September 29, SPC)
Liam Neeson stars as Deep Throat of Watergate fame, with Diane Lane as his wife. Landesman’s debut, “Parkland,” opened in Venice and TIFF in 2013; “Concussion” in 2015 skipped the big four to premiere at AFI.
“Marshall,” Dir. Reginald Hudlin (October 13, Open Road)
Chadwick Boseman stars as young lawyer-on-the-rise Thurgood Marshall, with Emmy-winner Sterling K. Brown as his client. While Open Road has a strong festival track record with Best Picture winner “Spotlight” (Telluride, Venice, Toronto, 2015) and “Bleed for This” (Telluride and Toronto, 2016), this would be Hudlin’s first festival entry. His last feature was the studio comedy “Serving Sara” starring Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley in 2002.
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