The 61st BFI London Film Festival has set Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri as its closing night gala. The dark comedy will screen on October 15 at the Odeon Leicester Square with McDonagh and stars Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell in attendance. The LFF slot marks the film’s UK premiere after it launches in Venice and then heads to Toronto. Fox Searchlight has set an October 13 domestic release date.
McDormand plays Mildred Hayes, a mother who makes a bold move months after her daughter’s murder: She posts a trio of outdoor signs with controversial messages alongside the road that leads into her small southern town. Her target is William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the revered local police chief. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Rockwell) — an immature mama’s boy with a penchant for violence — gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is exacerbated. John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Abbie Cornish and Caleb Landry Jones co-star.
The London 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. It opens this year with Andy Serkis’ Breathe, and has Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s Battle Of The Sexes as its American Express Gala. Three Billboards is likewise staking out the awards corridor and has buzz surrounding it.
BFI London Film Festival Director, Clare Stewart calls Three Billboards an “all-too-relevant film” that “confronts division and conflict in small-town America and is driven by a blistering performance from Frances McDormand.” Blistering indeed, check out the redband trailer here.
McDonagh adds, “I’m excited to bring this film back to my home town for its UK premiere. I’m more than proud of it and if there are any fans of In Bruges still out there, I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.”
A Searchlight and Film4 presentation of a Blueprint Pictures production, Three Billboards is produced by Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and McDonagh — the team behind In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. Exec producers are Bergen Swanson, Diarmuid McKeown, Rose Garnett, David Kosse and Daniel Battsek.
Twentieth Century Fox will release the film in the UK on January 12 next year.
LFF runs from October 4-October 15. The full lineup will be announced on August 31.