The bad news: it’s the Los Angeles Film Festival.
True, I’ve seen plenty of great films at the LAFF (Goodbye Dragon Inn, Red Lights, Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus), but the organizers of this fine shindig have been aggressively pushing into commercial territory for years. And many believe they pissed away their credibility as a showcase for quality filmmaking last year when they feted Michael Bay’s Transformers.
But short of moving out of the summer for the fall (which isn’t viable at all), what’s the LAFF going to do? They’re never going to get high-profile films coming out of Cannes because all of those titles have been promised as “premieres” to Toronto, Venice and Telluride (with maybe one big film being held back for New York). Same goes for anything that made a lot of noise at Sundance – i.e. unless one or more of those films are already targeting a summer release (e.g. The Wackness, Hamlet 2, etc.). And even if they do secure a hot Sundance title, chances are it won’t be decked out with enough starts to justify splashy media coverage for the red carpet and after-party. They got lucky two years ago with Little Miss Sunshine; there’s nothing like that on the horizon.
That’s why the LAFF is forced to dip into the summer movie crop to drum up publicity. If there’s an upside for Hellboy II, it’s that the film will screen on June 29th, which is twelve days out from its official release. Since a festival opening is fair game for critics, this means Universal must be fairly confident in the quality of the movie. Not that any of us were worried about Guillermo not delivering the goods…