Now I really don’t expect Clint Eastwood‘s American Sniper to be Tuesday night’s big surprise screening at AFI Fest. Deadline‘s Pete Hammond has reported that Eastwood told him during last night’s Governor’s Awards ceremony that he “just put the finishing touches” on Sniper in “the past two days” and that “it’s ready to be seen now.” Even if they wanted to offer it as a surprise Warner Bros. marketers wouldn’t have discussed the possibility with AFI Fest before they absolutely knew it was fully finished and screenable, or within the last 48 to 72 hours, and it seems unlikely that AFI Fest honchos would have held out during a “well, maybe but we have to wait until Clint tells us it’s completely done” situation.
Somebody told me last night that he’d heard loose talk about Tuesday’s surprise being The Imitation Game. How would that be an exciting “surprise”? A movie that festivalgoers saw in Telluride and Toronto more than two months ago? That’s been totally discussed and debated and handicapped with an inch of its life? It’s a very good film but somehow it doesn’t seem all that wowish. People want to see something fresh and clean and straight from the lab.