EXCLUSIVE: Cord Jefferson’s feature directorial debut American Fiction is changing up its release plan, shifting from a November 3 limited opening to December 15.
The MGM/MRC theatrical release, which stars Jeffrey Wright, Issa Rae, Sterling K. Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross and Skyler Wright and just won the Toronto Film Festival’s People Choice Award for the fest’s top film, is a scathing satire on the publishing industry and its treatment of serious works by Black writers. One of those writers is Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Wright). He travels back to his hometown of Boston to attend a book festival, but the turnout is low in favor of another book seminar with author Sintara Golden’s (Issa Rae) bestseller We Lives in Da Ghetto.
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Originally, MGM planned to expand American Fiction on November 10 and November 17. Now following a mid-December release, an expansion is planned for December 22. Given the pic’s response out of Toronto and the People’s Choice win, I understand the studio is bullish and wants to give the film the opportunity to take advantage of the rich holiday play period with the pic’s word-of-mouth and playability.
Coming out of TIFF, the movie is currently clocked at 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Deadline film critic Valerie Complex wrote about the movie in her review, “Perhaps the most impactful message American Fiction delivers is about personal agency in a world that often seeks to define the stories of others. The media’s myopic view of Black lives might never shift, but individuals have the power to set their own narratives and boundaries. This film challenges viewers to reflect, question, and possibly reevaluate their perceptions on Blackness.”
Voted by audience members since 1978 and often considered a harbinger for the Best Picture Oscar, the TIFF People’s Choice Award has been won by such eventual Best Picture winners as Nomadland, Green Book, 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, American Beauty and Chariots of Fire. Among winners that went on to Best Picture nominations include last year’s winner The Fabelmans as well as Belfast, JoJo Rabbit, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Room, La La Land, The Imitation Game, Silver Linings Playbook, Precious, Life Is Beautiful, Places in the Heart and The Big Chill.
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