That’s because while Fox Searchlight Pictures chased after opening night for “Birdman,” the black comedy from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Babel”) had to settle instead for the closer–and a world premiere opening at the earlier Venice International Film Festival. That’s because parent studio Twentieth Century Fox grabbed the NYFF opening night spot for David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. (We’ll see if “Birdman” also turns up at Searchlight favorite Telluride, which doesn’t announce its program in advance and doesn’t lay claim to official world premieres.) This marks Gonalzez-Iñárritu’s third go-round at NYFF, after “Amores Perros” (2000) and “21 Grams” (2003). Searchlight Pictures will open the New Regency release in select theaters on October 17.
Centerpiece Gala “Inherent Vice,” while it comes from Warner Bros., is likely to be the least commercial of the NYFF trio. Again, like Anderson’s “The Master,” the film may get critics masticating and rushing to explain it, but it was clearly not opening night material. First, Joaquin Phoenix cannot be relied upon to fulfill the PR component demanded by a starry opener. Co-stars Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro will have to pick up the promo slack. And Anderson is not one for the press line either. Am I dying to see it? You bet. It opens December 12.
The question now is what winds up world premiering at Toronto, which threw down the gauntlet to distributors on no world premieres going to Telluride if you want to play the TIFF opening weekend. Their announcement comes Tuesday morning. So then we’ll know if “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, the Terrence Malick or Brad Pitt’s “Fury” will land gala slots. For opening night they may go local with one of three Cannes Canadian entries, Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy,” “The Captives” (Atom Egoyan) or most likely, accessible Hollywood comedy “Maps of the Stars” (David Cronenberg), complete with Rob Pattinson and Cannes winner Julianne Moore for the red carpet. Hitfix lays out the odds.