Organizers of this September’s Toronto International Film Festival have picked The Judge, a legal drama starring two famous Roberts (Downey Jr. and Duvall), as the festival’s opening night movie.
The Warner Bros. film, slated for release on Oct. 10, was one of the many high-profile entries from the festival lineup that was announced on Tuesday. When the first list of titles was announced without any film selected as the festival opener, there was speculation that a different film was being primed for that pole position. Perhaps the festival committee needed an extra few days to make sure the opening film was a worthy one, especially since TIFF announced that they only wanted to screen world premieres during the festival’s opening weekend this year.
Previously announced as one of TIFF’s Gala presentations, The Judge stars Robert Downey Jr. as Hank Palmer, a successful attorney who returns to his hometown to mourn his late mother. There, he discovers that his father, Judge Joseph Palmer (played by Robert Duvall), is on trial. Also starring Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton and Vincent D’Onofrio, The Judge is the first drama from Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin.
“David Dobkin has delivered a moving, textured story about family, duty and the way we remember our past,” said Piers Handling, the director and CEO of TIFF. “We couldn’t have asked for a better start to this year’s event.”
This means that Warner Bros. has another potentially high-profile TIFF hit on its hands. During the last two years, the studio used Toronto as a big launching ground for their Oscar-winning dramas Gravity and Argo. While this opening night slot may be considered to be an honor, films that have opened TIFF have had a spotty record at the box office and awards season. Past first-night flicks The Fifth Estate and Looper failed to garner any Oscar nominations (although the latter was critically beloved and did well in theaters). Hopefully, audiences make a case for this star-studded drama and awards contender.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 4th to 14th. Stay tuned as we’ll be sure to have a review on The Judge for you after it premieres.