New York Film Festival Snags Walter Mitty as Centerpiece Gala

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Just days after the premiere of the first trailer for Ben Stiller’s adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that the anticipated movie adapted from James Thurber’s short story will be premiering as the Centerpiece Gala at the 51st New York Film Festival.

Besides directing the film, Stiller stars as the title character, a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.

Stiller’s latest film joins Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks, that snagged the Opening Gala spot earlier this week although that opens a few weeks after its premiere whereas “Walter Mitty” won’t be released until Christmas Day.

You can read the full press release below:

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today that Ben Stiller’s highly anticipated adaptation of James Thurber’s classic short story THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY which also stars Stiller alongside Kristen Wiig, will make its World Premiere on Saturday, October 5 as the Centerpiece Gala presentation for the upcoming 51st New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13).

NYFF’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones said, “Ben Stiller has expanded on James Thurber’s beloved short story and crafted a beautifully lyrical comic epic, grounded in present day realities and concerns. He is wonderful in the lead, Kristen Wiig is nothing short of magical as the woman of his dreams, and it’s great to see Shirley MacLaine in perfect form. THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is one terrific ride, and I’m thrilled that we’re able to present it as our Centerpiece screening.”

Stiller directs and stars in the remake of James Thurber’s classic story (first published in The New Yorker in 1939) of a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker (Kristen Wiig) are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Patton Oswalt and Sean Penn also star. The 20th Century Fox release is set to open wide on Christmas Day.

Ben Stiller said, “I am incredibly honored and excited to have THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY premiere in the New York Film Festival. When I first heard, I wanted to make sure it was the one at Lincoln Center and not one in Utica or somewhere. Making this film has been a wonderful collaboration with a really special screenwriter, Steve Conrad, and all the extremely talented cast and crew who worked on this movie. Having grown up a few blocks away on Riverside Drive, I couldn’t be happier to have it premiere here.”

Rose Kuo, the Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, said “Ben Stiller has long demonstrated an ability to mesh comic imagination with an eye toward the cultural zeitgeist and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is his crowning achievement. We are very excited to welcome him for his debut at the New York Film Festival. We know he grew up in the neighborhood and we realized that he was too talented to keep out forever.”

FilmLinc Daily Managing Editor Brian Brooks spoke with Stiller about THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, the film’s selection for NYFF’s Centerpiece Gala, looking ahead to the debut of the film and his “homecoming” to NYFF and Lincoln Center. That interview can be found at Filmlinc.com

The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones also includes: Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Cinematheque Programming; Gavin Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Film Comment; Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight and Sound; and Marian Masone, FSLC Associate Director of Programming.

NYFF previously announced Paul Greengrass’s CAPTAIN PHILLIPS as its Opening Night Gala selection.