Three weeks before it’s Thanksgiving weekend release, it was a “good evening” to unveil “Hitchcock” as the opening gala for AFI Fest 2012.
Leads Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren weren't at Grauman’s Thursday night, but they were together: The two are working in London, shooting “Red 2.” “We haven’t worked together in our entire careers — and now two movies in a row,” Mirren said in a taped introduction.
Left: Jason and ("Hitchcock" producer-dad) Ivan Reitman.
Surveying his work, director Sacha Gervasi sat all the way through the credit crawl of the first mass screening of his first narrative film, as guests walked through a puddle of spilled popcorn in the main aisle and headed for the after-party across the street at the Roosevelt Hotel.
“I think they liked it,” Gervasi (top, inside his one-sheet) told TheWrap. “They seemed to laugh, they seemed to applaud.” The audience did both for the surprisingly funny film.
Right: Fox Searchlight Production President Claudia Lewis and the film's composer, Danny Elfman.
The AFI audience gave two applause breaks during the screening: one following a pivotal Mirren monologue and the other during an appropriately “Hitchcock” scene at the end, where the real action is heard, imagined and enjoyed but not seen.
“A year ago I was sitting in the back of this theater watching ‘Shame,’” Gervasi said. “If you had told me 'Hitchcock' was opening AFI, I wouldn’t have believed you."
In another full circle, the film’s epilogue (non-spoiler) mentions that Hitchcock never won an Oscar, but did win the AFI’s Lifetime Achievement award in 1979.”
Left: Cloris Leachman strolled the red carpet in slippers.
Fox Searchlight is planning a Nov. 18 premiere in New York, where Scarlett Johansson begins performances in a revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway in December.
Two nights later, a celebrity-heavy premiere takes place at the Academy.
AFI Fest continues through Thursday, when Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is the closing night gala.
Right: Fox Searchlight co-presidents Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley, with Jim Gianopulos on AFI Fest Night 1.