At long last Searchlight Pictures has dated Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” for October 22, 2021. The date announcement comes with confirmation that Anderson’s star-studded new film will world premiere at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival in July and also play the 59th New York Film Festival in the fall. The movie was named an Official Selection of Cannes last year and was originally going to open July 24, 2020 before the pandemic bumped it first to October 16, 2020 and then now to October 22, 2021.
Searchlight’s official synopsis for “The French Dispatch” reads: “The film is a love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th Century French city and brings to life a collection of stories published in ‘The French Dispatch’ magazine.” The ensemble cast includes Bill Murray, Timothee Chalamet, Frances McDormand, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Elisabeth Moss, Tilda Swinton, Lea Seydoux, Owen Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, Tony Revolori, and more. Anderson’s longtime cinematographer Robert Yeoman shot the film, while his frequent composer Alexandre Desplat and editor Andrew Weisblum also worked on the project.
Chalamet stars in “The French Dispatch” as a student revolutionary named Zeffirelli, whose story appears to have a few nods to the Nouvelle Vague, from its black-and-white cinematography to its focus on rebellious and liberated youth. Anderson spoke to GQ Magazine last year about casting the “Call Me By Your Name” Oscar nominee in his new film.
“I had seen Timmy in ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Call Me by Your Name’ and I never had the inconvenience of ever thinking of anybody else for this role even for a second,” Anderson said. “I knew he was exactly right, and plus: He speaks French and looks like he might actually have walked right out of an Éric Rohmer movie. Some time around 1985. A slow train from Paris, a backpack, a beach for 10 days in bad weather. He’s not any kind of type — but the New Wave would have had a happy place for him.”
Speaking to IndieWire in 2019, Moss said shooting the project was a “surreal experience,” explaining, “I went to France and did two days of shooting and it was like stepping into a Wes Anderson movie. Everyone looks like they’re in a Wes Anderson movie — and they usually are — and there’s Wes Anderson, and he looks like he’s in a Wes Anderson movie. It was like a weird dream. And everyone’s so nice. Somebody will be reading, and someone’s listening to music, and there’s people chatting and eating croissants. It’s the most civilized experience.”
Anderson’s longtime production designer Adam Stockhausen also revealed last year he lost count of the exact number of sets built for the movie because it was such a huge total. The crew decided to film in Angoulême, France because it had the right infrastructure to support all of the sets needed for production. The city was also home to a rundown felt factory, which Anderson and his team converted into their own movie studio.
“Outside of town, we found this derelict felt factory, which sounds absurdly appropriate in retrospect but at the time, it seemed perfectly normal like, ‘Yeah! Felt factory!’” Stockhausen said in a statement. “So we took this place over and turned the entire thing DIY style into a movie studio, and we took over the different rooms of it and we made one of them a prop storage and another one became a carpentry mill and another one became the sculpture room, and another one became set dressing, and the three biggest ones became our stages.”
“The French Dispatch” opens October 22 in theaters.