The Steve McQueen-directed Twelve Years A Slave is set for a limited platform release beginning December 27, Fox Searchlight announced today. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt star in the film from Regency Enterprises and River Road that’s based on the true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom in the pre-Civil War America. It centers on Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery. Solomon faces cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner played by Fassbender) as well as unexpected kindness. In the 12th year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Pitt) will forever alter his life. The all-star cast also includes Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti, and Lupita Nyong’o. John Ridley penned the screenplay that’s based on the book by Northrup. McQueen and Pitt also produce along with DeDe Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Arnon Milchan, and Anthony Katagas.
Now that the Cannes Film Festival has announced Steven Spielberg as jury president and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby as the curtain raiser, speculation as to what the 66th running of the event holds in store will continue to mount until the mid-April press conference that officially unveils the lineup. Gatsby was pretty much a no-brainer what with its local May 15 release date falling on the day the fest kicks off and its story based on the classic novel F. Scott Fitzgerald completed in Valescure, less than 100 kilometers from the Palais. Folks are excited since arguably the most memorable Cannes opening night in the past 12 years — we were there — was with Luhrmann’s 2001 Moulin Rouge. (It’s also a nice dovetail for fest chief Thierry Frémaux: The first film he ever selected for Cannes was Moulin Rouge.) But, we can put to rest speculation about another movie with a subject close to the South of France gracing the Croisette: We understand that Grace Of Monaco, the biopic about the actress-turned-princess played by Nicole Kidman, directed by Olivier Dahan and recently acquired by The Weinstein Company, will not be making a Cannes run. Further, we’ve confirmed that Lars von Trier — a persona non grata at the 2011 fest for his Nazi-flavored comments — will not be ready with Nymphomaniac, the four-hour sex-o-rama that sold like hotcakes in Berlin. We also understand that J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness, once thought a possibility for an Out Of Competition slot, is not coming. And, despite Pedro Almodovar’s almost given place on the Croisette, we’ve heard his I’m So Excited is also unlikely to appear at the Palais.
But let’s forget about what’s not going and focus on all the films we might see. We’re consistently hearing that this year will include “the usual suspects” in official selection. The Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis is a strong possibility – CBS Films just acquired the pic which screened on the Sony lot in late February, although Frémaux said he had not yet seen the film as of his trip to the Oscars last month. Llewyn Davis doesn’t have a release date in the U.S. yet, and its French release, via StudioCanal, is in December, but it’s worth recalling that the Coens’ No Country For Old Men bowed in Cannes in 2007 and wasn’t released Stateside until November that year before going on to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Also ripe is Sofia Coppola’s young Hollywood robbers tale The Bling Ring, for which upstart distributor A24 has set a June 14 U.S. release. Pathé is releasing in France on June 5, just a couple weeks after the fest wraps. The addition of Coppola to the roster could help calm the naysayers last year who complained there were no female directors in the main lineup. Another female director who could make the cut is Kelly Reichardt with Night Moves, starring Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard and Jesse Eisenberg, about environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam.
Michael Kenneth Williams has been added to the cast of Twelve Years A Slave. The actor joins Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Brad Pitt in the Steve McQueen-directed film. Raising Hope‘s Garret Dillahunt, Paul Dano and SNL’s …