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Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave has been impressing audiences at every film festival it has been shown at so far and audiences in several cities will finally get a chance to see it this weekend. It begins its slow rollout today.
The film has earned nearly unanimous praise from critics, earning a 96 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it is a difficult film, not shying away from the brutality of slavery. It is the true story of Solomon Northup, a man born free in New York and conned into slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northup and other members of the cast include Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.
Back in June, Fox Searchlight announced that the film will open on Oct. 18 with a platform release, similar to The Weinstein Company’s successful rollout of Silver Linings Playbook last year. The point is to drum up word of mouth among the average moviegoer.
“We wanted to go out close enough to Toronto and Telluride to take advantage of that buzz,” Frank Rodriguez, Senior Vice-President of Distribution at Fox Searchlight, told TheWrap this week. “And we also wanted enough time to let the film build not only on Oscar buzz but also with some of the other sectors that we think we’ll connect with, like African-American moviegoers.”
Fox Searchlight has also employed this plan in the past, most recently with 2011’s The Descendants. That film went on to gross $177 million worldwide after opening at just 29 locations. 12 Years A Slave will start at 19 locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major urban areas.
12 Years A Slave will likely go down as McQueen’s breakthrough film. His previous works, Hunger and Shame, both failed to earn mainstream success. In the New York Times review, Manohla Dargis notes, “For 12 Years a Slave, by contrast, Mr. McQueen has largely dispensed with the conventions of art cinema to make something close to a classical narrative; in this movie, the emphasis isn’t on visual style but on Solomon and his unmistakable desire for freedom.”
You can check out the trailer for the film below and Entertainment Weekly has posted other clips.