It’s just been announced that the 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival will open with Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition…which Fox Searchlight recently decided to remove from award-season consideration by giving it a release date of 4.8.16. Before that curious announcement it seemed to make sense that the solemn-sounding Demolition, a drama about loss and recovery starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Namoi Watts and Chris Cooper, would open later this year and maybe kick up a little dust, especially given that Vallee’s Dallas Buyer’s Club and Wild were in the Oscar derby in 2013 and ’14. But no. And now the opening-night Toronto booking has people scratching their heads and going “what the…?”
When was the last time that an earnest, serious-minded drama from a name-brand director and a major-league U.S. distributor was given an opening-night TIFF slot without a subsequent opening before the end of the year? Obviously FS decided to bump Demolition because they felt it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi award-season quality, and we all know, of course, that TIFF opening-nighters have often been softer-edged, easy-on-the-sensibilities fare. At the very least this makes Demolition one of the most interesting, essential-to-catch TIFF openers in recent memory. Everyone attending the screening will be saying to themselves, “Okay…we’re about to see a film that Fox Searchlight didn’t think was good enough to compete during award season, and now we’re only minutes away from discovering what that shortcoming was.”
TIFF’s opening-night presentation of Demolition, brought to you by Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders.