Matilda, Matthew Warchus’ film version of the hit West End musical based on the children’s story by Roald Dahl, is due to open the London Film Festival this year.
The musical, which stars Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey and newcomer Alisha Weir in the title role, will kick off the 66th festival on October 5, two months before its national release.
Dahl published her novel – her best-selling children’s book – in 1988. The story of a young girl with telekinetic powers who nurtures her love of reading despite abusive parents and a fierce teacher, has been made into a very appreciated in 1996 by Danny DeVito.
Dennis Kelly adapted the novel for the stage in 2009, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. The original stage production, directed by Warchus, premiered in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010, before moving to the West End and Broadway. It won numerous awards and enjoyed considerable box office success.
The film version also features Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough as Matilda’s parents; Kelly wrote the screenplay.
“What a pleasure to open this amazing film festival with singing, dancing, green hair and chocolate cake,” Warchus said of the LFF announcement. “It is a true honor to share this joyful and empowering story of one little girl’s courage and compassion at such a prestigious event.”
Tricia Tuttle, festival director, said: “Like so many who have been lucky enough to see it, I am a huge fan of this original musical, with Tim Minchin’s brilliant and infectious songs bringing new depth to a classic children’s literature.With screenwriter Dennis Kelly, Matthew Warchus cleverly adapted his own production for the screen with absolute verve and enthusiasm.
She added, “It’s a catchy, uplifting story about sticking together and fighting against the bullies of the world, even when it seems scary. Sometimes you have to be a little naughty!
The festival has struggled to secure world premieres for its coveted opening and closing nightclubs in recent years, but prestige family films have often been assets, with first looks from Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox opening in 2009 and Saving Mr Banks – also featuring Thompson – closing in 2013.
Last year, the festival opened with the world premiere of Idris Elba’s western The Harder They Fall.
Key opening night premieres for the Venice and Toronto film festivals – which open in August and September – are expected shortly. Meanwhile, expectations are high for a packed slate of fall awards season movies after a quiet Cannes in May.
The 66e The BFI London Film Festival runs from October 5-16, 2022.