The BFI London Film Festival has set Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Battle Of The Sexes as its American Express Gala. The Emma Stone/Steve Carell-starrer will have its European Premiere on October 7 at London’s Odeon Leicester Square, with screenings of the 70s period drama then being held across the UK on October 10.
Stone, Andrea Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, the directors and tennis legend Billie Jean King are expected to attend the October 7 premiere of the Fox Searchlight title. LFF, which announces its full lineup on August 31, opens with Andy Serkis’ Breathe on October 4. The fest is an important stop on the fall circuit, serving as an opportunity to get out in front of the UK’s BAFTA and Academy membership — Lion was the Amex Gala last year. Battle Of The Sexes has its international premiere in September in Toronto.
The story recounts the match that pitted the tennis pro/hustler and admitted male chauvinist Bobby Riggs (Carell) against the world’s greatest female player in King (Stone), who also happened to be a devout feminist. Their 1973 face-off on the court was equal parts sport and theater, held in the sprawling Astrodome with a global TV audience of some 90M. And what it meant for women’s tennis — and women’s sports in general — cannot be overstated.
Off court, King and Riggs were fighting more personal and complex battles. The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett (Riseborough) developed. Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla (Shue). Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman and Alan Cumming also star.
Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy wrote the script with Cloud Eight Films’ Christian Colson and Decibel Films’ Danny Boyle producing. Also producing is Robert Graf.
Fox releases domestically on September 22; the UK date is November 24. The London Film Festival runs October 4-15.