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Well, I pretty much nailed this likelihood in a tweet on Tuesday. With very little left to choose from in the way of North American premieres, what with NYFF really diving in big this year on that front and Telluride and Toronto taking their fair share as usual, it seemed like Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" would be a good fit for AFI Fest. And so it shall be. The November festival always has one or two premieres every year, and last year, one of them was a Spielberg film -- "The Adventures of Tintin" (which closed the fest while Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" opened it). He'll be back for more in 2012.
”Steven Spielberg is an American master, enriching the cultural legacy of our nation with each new film in his extraordinary career,” AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale said via press release. ”We are honored he has chosen AFI FEST for the World Premiere of 'Lincoln,' an historic cinematic event in itself as it brings the most dramatic American history to life for new generations.”
The film opens in limited release the next day on November 9 and expands further on November 16. So it's a good place to unleash the film, but I wonder, what's left for an opener? "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Django Unchained," all of those are likely off the table. "Promised Land," too, given the late December release date. Fox Searchlight just introduced "Hitchcock" to the season, with a November release as well, so that's possible.
"The Adventures of Tintin" was a big play last year. And it didn't much feel like a festival film, either. So maybe Warner Bros. gives "The Hobbit" a whirl? Cheap LA premiere, after all. There's really nothing else, though.
More from the press release:
"Spielberg has an impressive history with AFI. He was the recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1995, the highest honor for a career in film; five of his movies rate among the greatest films of all time on AFI’s 100 Years...100 Movies list: 'Schindler's List' (#8), 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial' (#24), 'Jaws' (#56), 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (#66) and 'Saving Private Ryan' (#71); and last year he completed a one-hour special at the AFI Conservatory with friend and collaborator John Williams entitled TCM PRESENTS AFI'S MASTER CLASS: THE ART OF COLLABORATION that explored the four-decade friendship and working relationship between the two artists, among the most prolific and influential collaborations in film history. In addition, both Spielberg and producer Kathleen Kennedy serve on the American Film Institute’s Board of Trustees, which is chaired by Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sony Corporation, and is comprised of leaders of the motion picture and television communities and leaders from global goods and services companies. Spielberg has been an AFI Trustee since 1986, Kennedy since 1994."
Meanwhile, Spielberg's stuff keeps making its way to Blu-ray. After "Jaws" a few weeks back, the Indiana Jones trilogy hit shelves this week (and is getting a big IMAX theatrical re-release), with "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" coming soon enough. I guess it's all Spielberg all the time.
"Lincoln" opens in limited release on November 9.
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