In perhaps a fitting bit of irony, Foxcatcher – Bennett Miller’s long delayed biographical drama starring Steve Carrell (The Way Way Back), Channing Tatum (Magic Mike), and Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) – has been selected as the closing night film for the 2014 AFI Film Festival in Hollywood. The film, which was originally set to open in theaters last fall, was intended to have its world premiere at last year’s AFI Fest. At least there doesn’t appear to any bad blood.
Distributor Sony Pictures Classics pulled the feature last year, but it appears to have worked out for the better. Foxcatcher instead held its world premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where Miller took home the Director’s prize from the jury headed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Jane Campion (The Piano). Right off the bat, Foxcatcher received a generous response from critics for Miller’s polished take on the chilling true story. The movie concerns the bizarre relationship between Mark Schultz (Tatum), an Olympic wrestling champion, and an eccentric billionaire (Carrell, in an about face dramatic turn). Ruffalo portrays Tatum’s older brother and Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement) rounds out the cast. Dan Futterman (Capote) and E. Max Frye (Something Wild) wrote the screenplay.
Since premiering at Cannes, Foxcatcher has continued to earn raves, playing at both the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, and is set to play the ongoing New York Film Festival as well. All of this may lead to a potentially bountiful awards run for Sony Classics. Miller has already established a sterling pedigree with the Academy, having directed Capote (which earned the late Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar in 2006) and Moneyball (2011), both of which were nominated for Best Picture. Awards prognosticators have already put Carrell and Ruffalo as strong contenders, with Tatum being considered a possibility as well – all of which is a long way of saying that perhaps Sony Classics was better off delaying Foxcatcher an entire calendar year.
”Bennett Miller and the film’s incredible cast are going to close the festival and our last night at the iconic Dolby Theatre with an enthralling psychological drama that is one of the highlights of American independent filmmaking this year,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, AFI’s programming director. AFI previously announced that J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain will open the 2014 festival (marking that film’s world premiere) and that the fest will hold a tribute to icon Sophia Loren. No other titles have been announced yet. AFI Film Fest runs from November 6th-13th in Hollywood. Foxcatcher will be released in theaters on November 14th (we hope).