While it was previously reported that Clint Eastwood was unlikely to make any major festival appearances in the run up to the release of his latest effort "J. Edgar," the director will now give it a splashy red carpet premiere at the AFI Fest a few days before it rolls out to multiplexes across the country.
Though it's a bit more star oriented than film driven festivals like Venice, Toronto and New York, the AFI Fest is still a notable stop on the festival circuit, and Eastwood will get the opening night gala slot with "J. Edgar" set to screen on November 3rd. Penned by "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, the film is a decades-spanning look at the life of the controversial head of the FBI. An extensive cast that includes Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Ed Westwick, Damon Herriman, Judi Dench, Ken Howard, Jeffrey Donovan and Stephen Root round things out for what promises to be an intriguing ensemble piece.
Now, don't get it twisted. The very late appearance on the festival slate has less to do with the quality of the movie, and more to do with Eastwood going down to the wire to get the film cut and finished -- "J. Edgar" only started shooting at the end of February. That said, an appearance at AFI Fest means it won't get quite the same press scrutiny as it would have if it premiered at Toronto, New York or London, which could mean a missed opportunity to build buzz. On the the one hand, if the flick is a dud, Warner Bros. won't have to worry about advance bad press as the movie opens just days later.
"J. Edgar" will open on November 9th, and we'd guess we'll be getting some kind of trailer soon. Will Clint shake up the Oscar race? Time will tell. [Deadline]