The American Film Institute’s 2014 AFI Fest has snagged another major world premiere as it said today that Paramount Pictures’ The Gambler starring Mark Wahlberg will make its official debut at the Dolby Theatre on Monday, November 10. The film, not being released until December 19, pete_hammond_300x100marks a big coup for AFI and its placement at the Dolby is also a subtle hint that that’s where the studio would like to see Wahlberg competing as Best Actor come February 22nd.

The much-awaited remake of the 1974 film that starred James Caan was directed by Rupert Wyatt and written by William Monahan, who based his script on  James Toback’s original screenplay. Producers are Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, David Winkler and Irwin Winkler, and Robert Chartoff, the latter two having produced the first film. Co-stars are John Goodman, Brie Larson, Michael Kenneth Williams and Jessica Lange.

AFI FestAlthough, as often noted here, the Best Actor race is very overcrowded this year and Paramount has other contenders on deck including Interstellar’s Matthew McConaughey and Selma’s  David Oyelowo, this is the kind of role that could bring Wahlberg back into the Oscar conversation. His only previous acting nomination came for his 2006 supporting role in The Departed — also written by Monahan, who won an Oscar for his script. But Wahlberg was a nominee in 2010 as a producer of the Best Picture nominee, The Fighter, which ironically also had its debut at AFI Fest when it showed up unannounced as a special sneak preview.

Walhberg made a surprise appearance there.  This time there will be no surprise.  He’s going. Will AFI Fest be another good luck charm this awards season?

Already announced for the fest is the opening-night Gala film, A Most Violent Year, on November 6 and closer Foxcatcher on November 13. Sophia Loren will also be getting a special tribute November 12.  The rest of the lineup is expected to be announced shortly.