Toronto, Aug 14 Canadian-Media): The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has for the first time chosen a small-screen Netflix movie for its big-screen gala opener on Sept. 6: David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King, a period drama about Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, starring Star Trek’s Chris Pine, media reports said.
The choice of a Netflix picture to launch TIFF 2018 runs counter to the philosophy of the Cannes Film Festival, which this year declined to screen several Netflix films because the online streaming giant refused to guarantee a traditional theatrical opening.
Netflix’s hardline stance has touched off a debate in the movie industry about the fate of big-screen moviegoing as productions increasingly shift to smaller screens online.
Chris Pine stars in Outlaw King. (COURTESY NETFLIX AND TIFF)Netflix isn’t making any theatrical guarantees to TIFF, either, although the fest’s announcement Tuesday notes Outlaw King will open “in select theatres” Nov. 9, the same day it launches online globally.
In past practise, this has meant limited runs in New York and Los Angeles, although Netflix did briefly screen its 2017 thriller Okja at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox concurrently with an online run.
TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey told the Star back in April that Netflix and other streaming services are “not necessarily a threat to the theatrical experience.” On Tuesday he tweeted he’s “thrilled” to open the 43rd edition of his festival with Outlaw King, because “David Mackenzie delivers.”
The Scottish director previously worked with actor Pine in Hell or High Water, a western drama that premiered at Cannes prior to a big-screen theatrical run and eventual Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing. Mackenzie also directed the critically acclaimed films Young Adam, Starred Up and Perfect Sense.
Outlaw King, which is also the first Scottish film ever to open TIFF, co-stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh and Billy Howle. It tells the story of 14th-century warrior monarch Robert the Bruce, who rose from defeat to become the heroic defender of Scotland during the country’s tyrannical occupation by Edward I, the king of England.
TIFF also announced its Sept. 16 closing-night film: Justin Kelly’s Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, starring Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern. It’s the fact-based drama of a literary hoax that became a bestselling novel.
Bailey calls it “a truly unbelievable story” that is nonetheless true.
“The storytelling is powerful and the characters are vivid, really evoking the idea that you have to see it to believe it.”
TIFF also announced 26 additions to its gala and special presentations programs Tuesday, as it begins to finish up its slate of offerings for September’s film banquet