The forthcoming comedy-drama Downsizing, the latest feature from Oscar-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants), has been named as the opening night selection for the 2017 Venice Film Festival. The anticipated feature – which Paramount Pictures will release in theaters on December 22nd – stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig (both alums of Ridley Scott’s 2015 smash The Martian). Variety was the first to report this scoop.
With his strong pedigree as a writer-director – which also includes critical favorites like Election, About Schmidt and Nebraska – a new Payne feature is always worth keeping an eye on, particularly when it comes to movies that may vie for awards at the end of the year; Payne has won two Oscar for writing (Sideways, The Descendants) and received an additional an additional five for directing and producing. Downsizing also comes with a wild high-concept.
The film is a social satire about people who choose to literally shrink down to five inches in an effort to achieve a better life. The estimable ensemble cast includes Oscar winning Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds), Laura Dern (Wild), Jason Sudekis (Horrible Bosses), Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl), Margo Martindale (August: Osage County) and Niecy Nash (Getting On). Payne co-wrote the film with longtime collaborator Jim Taylor.
The Venice opener is significant for a number of reasons as it casts a shining light during the critical fall festival season, which for the right title can elicit significant buzz. Specifically, the Venice opening slot in recent years has proven to a strong beacon for strong awards contenders. Last year, Damien Chazelle’s Oscar-winning musical La La Land opened Venice; in recent years other awards hits like Gravity (2013) and Best Picture champ Birdman (2014) have opened the Venice Film Festival. Downsizing will mark Payne’s first entry into the Venice Film Festival.
The 2017 Venice Film Festival runs August 30th-September 9th.