A release date for the forthcoming chess drama Queen of Katwe starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) has been confirmed. Disney will open the Mira Nair-directed film in limited release on September 23rd followed by a national roll-out one week later. The early fall scheduling for the film may bode well if an end-of-the-year awards run is in the cards.
Based on Tim Crothers’ non-fiction book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster, the film explores the training of a young Ugandan woman becoming a world class chess champion. Newcomer Madina Nalwanga portrays chess prodigy Madina Nalwanga with Nyong’o playing her mother. David Oyelowo (Selma) also stars in the film. William Wheeler (The Hoax) wrote the screenplay.
Hopes may be slightly higher on the project considering it will mark the first time in over two years that Nyong’o has actually appeared on screen. The Yale Drama School grad won an Oscar for her work in Steve McQueen’s drama 12 Years a Slave (2013) and was featured in a small role in the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop in early 2014. Since then, Nyong’o has done motion capture work on the blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the forthcoming The Jungle Book. She is slated to appear in Ava DuVernay’s upcoming science fiction film Intelligent Life.
The release date for Queen of Katwe may perhaps open the door for a fall film festival berth (Telluride, Venice, Toronto), however director Nair (Monsoon Wedding) will premiere early footage at the San Francisco Film Festival later this month.