Rules Don’t Apply, which was written, produced, directed by and co-stars Warren Beatty in his first film in 15 years, has been selected to open the 30th edition of American Film Institute’s AFI Fest. The long-awaited film from New Regency and 20th Century Fox will bow November 10 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood before it hits theaters two weeks later on November 23. This pick was a no-brainer for AFI as Beatty has a storied history with the organization having been the recipient of their prestigious 2008 Life Achievement Award.
The new film, in which Beatty plays Howard Hughes and is set in 1958, has been a longtime dream project for the star and represents the first time he has directed since 1998’s acclaimed Bulworth. His last acting job in a movie came in 2001 with Town & Country. An Oscar-winning director for Reds in 1981, Beatty was also the recipient of the Academy’s Thalberg Award and holds the distinction of having been Oscar nominated for Actor,Director, Picture and Screenplay all in the same year — not just once but twice, for 1978’s Heaven Can Wait and Reds.
“Warren Beatty has charmed and challenged moviegoers from his first moment on screen, and his talents as an actor, director, writer and producer have always transcended trends,” AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said. “AFI is honored to present the world premiere of his newest gift to America’s cultural legacy.” AFI Fest director Jacqueline Lyanga added that this was the perfect film to open the 30th year of the perfectly timed fall festival (smack in the heart of awards season) since the film also takes place in Hollywood. “On opening night, the TCL Chinese Theatre, the quintessential temple of cinema in Hollywood, will shine a light on Rules Don’t Apply,” she said.
The film is about an aspiring young actress (Lily Collins) and her ambitious young driver (Alden Ehrenreich) who struggle “hopefully” with the absurd eccentricities of eclectic billionaire Hughes, for whom they work. It has a sterling list of supporting players including Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Candice Berger, Steve Coogan, Ed Harris, Haley Bennett, Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, Oliver Platt, Taissa Farmiga, Megan Hilty and Martin Sheen.
With awards season set to kick off tomorrow in Venice followed by the Telluride, Toronto and New York film festivals, AFI Fest has become an important stop later in the game — especially for movies with high Oscar hopes that aren’t quite ready to premiere at the earlier festivals. It will run November 10-17 and you can expect several more prime contenders to be announced soon.
The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled in October.