Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical will open this year’s BFI London Film Festival.
The annual fest, scheduled for Oct. 5-16 and held in partnership with American Express, unveiled its opening night gala on Thursday. Matilda will gets its world premiere in London on Oct. 5 at the Southbank Centre, “ahead of Sony Pictures U.K. and TriStar Pictures releasing the film exclusively in cinemas on Dec. 2 in the U.K. and Ireland,” organizers said. “Filmmaker and cast attendance is expected, and there will also be simultaneous preview screenings of the film taking place at multiple cinemas across the U.K.”
The movie stars Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough, Sindhu Vee and introduces Alisha Weir as the eponymous Matilda. Netflix will release it across the world, excluding the U.K. and Ireland, this holiday season.
The film is described as an “inspirational musical tale of an extraordinary girl who discovers her superpower and summons the remarkable courage, against all odds, to help others change their stories, whilst also taking charge of her own destiny.”
“What a delight to be opening this tremendous film festival with singing, dancing, green hair and chocolate cake,” said film director Matthew Warchus. “It’s a real honor to be sharing this joyful and empowering tale of a little girl’s courage and compassion at such a prestigious event.”
Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director, added: “Like so many people who have been lucky enough to see it, I am a massive fan of this original stage musical, with Tim Minchin’s infectiously brilliant songs bringing new depth to a classic of children’s literature. With screenwriter Dennis Kelly, Matthew Warchus has smartly adapted his own production for the screen with absolute verve and gusto. And what a cast: Alisha Weir is a revelation as Matilda; Emma Thompson is a chillingly nasty Trunchbull, and Lashana Lynch’s Miss Honey will melt your heart. It’s a delight to host the world premiere of this exceptional all-ages musical film in our opening night spot and take it out to audiences across the U.K. with Sony Pictures. This is a rollicking, rousing story about sticking together and fighting back against the bullies of the world, even when that seems scary.”
The protagonist of the story is Matilda Wormwood (Weir), “a little girl with big curiosity, a sharp mind and a vivid imagination — and the worst parents in the world.” While her parents (Graham and Riseborough) “content themselves with trashy TV and dodgy money-making schemes, she loves to lose herself in the pages of her beloved books. Where they are loud, selfish and unkind she is a quiet observer, thinking up small and cheeky acts of rebellion and revenge.”
When she meets her inspirational teacher, Miss Honey (Lynch), Matilda is encouraged and begins conjuring her own fantastical tales. “Excited to attend Crunchem Hall, Matilda is surprised to find the school is an ominous and oppressive place led by the huge and villainous Miss Trunchbull (Thompson). As well as kind Miss Honey, the bright lights among the meanness are story-loving librarian, Mrs. Phelps (Vee) and Matilda’s newfound school friends.”
The film was produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner for Working Title, Jon Finn and Luke Kelly of The Roald Dahl Story Company. It includes original music and lyrics by Minchin.
The BFI London Film Festival will unveil its full program on Sept. 1.