Mike Fleming

birdmanEXCLUSIVE: While there has been speculation that Fox Searchlight and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu would race to make the Cannes Film Festival, Fox Searchlight co-president Stephen Gilula tells Deadline that the film will open Friday, October 17. It won’t complete post production until late May or early June, meaning that it will be eyeing fall festivals.

This is his first black comedy, but Inarritu’s past films have been magnets for festivals, and he should have several choices for a festival that is compatible with the opening of Birdman, which Searchlight made with New Regency and Worldview Entertainment. Searchlight controls worldwide distribution and will release it overseas in January. So start the jockeying, Toronto, Telluride and Venice.

alej“It’s the heart of the fall, and a great time historically for us with films like Sideways, 12 Years A Slave, and historically Slumdog Millionaire and Black Swan,” Gilula told me. “We’ve had great success launching films at festivals, but this hasn’t been screened for anyone, despite the speculation. Alejandro is famous for his meticulous work in post-production, and this film is unusual for him in that is has some visual effects, and an unusual sound design. The most important thing is to make sure that the film is right.”

The film has a killer cast, with Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts. Keaton plays a washed up actor who once played an iconic superhero who tries to mount a stage play despite his dysfunction and the dysfunction of others in his repertoire. Inarritu wrote the film with Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo, and he produced with John Lesher, Arnon Milchan and James W. Skotchdopole. Worldview’s Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners and Sarah E. Johnson are exec producers.