David Fincher’s eagerly anticipated Gone Girl appears to have made a killing as the opening night presentation for the 52nd New York Film Festival. The adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel stars Ben Affleck as a man who becomes Public Enemy #1 after the disappearance of his wife (played by Rosamund Pike.) Flynn wrote the screenplay for the film, which co-stars Kim Dickens (The Blind Side), Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Missi Pyle (Big Fish) and Tyler Perry (Alex Cross).
Opening the New York Film Festival with Gone Girl was a big coup for organizers– Fincher’s The Social Network opened the prestigious festival in 2010. Even so, distributor Fox chose to start screening the thriller for press nearly a week before its official world premiere, which may have caused a degree of acrimony to festival organizers but was probably out of necessity considering Gone Girl will open theatrically on October 3rd. Whatever the case, reaction this past week as well after the glitzy New York premiere was glowing, with ecstatic praise dolled out to Fincher’s direction, Flynn’s script, and the performances, especially from Pike (An Education), who is garnering wide acclaim for her chilly performance as the missing wife. Kenneth Turan, writing for The Los Angeles Times said, “Gone Girl shows the remarkable things that can happen when filmmaker and material are this well matched.”
Fox certainly hopes that the early reaction will spark awards talk for the film, even if it is a darker (and by some accounts, darkly humorous) genre piece that often times finds trouble garnering traction within the Academy. Then again, Fincher’s dark and very violent adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in 2011 earned five nominations (including a win for Best Film Editing) and netted Fincher his third DGA nod for Best Director.
Fox had great success two years ago when Ang Lee’s Life of Pi opened the 2012 New York Film Festival, starting its voyage that would eventually lead to a worldwide box office take north of $600 million and four Oscars wins (including one for Lee.) At the same time, the studio misfired when they premiered The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as the centerpiece gala at New York Film Fest last year. Other recent films that have opened the New York Film Festival include eventual awards favorites like Mystic River (2003), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) and Captain Phillips (2013).
It’s too early to tell where Gone Girl will fall into on terms of commercial success and awards viability, but the wave of reaction and anticipation bodes well for the film. The New York Film Festival runs until October 12th, with at least one more high profile world premiere on its slate– the eagerly anticipated Inherent Vice from Paul Thomas Anderson.