Directed by Matthew Warchus and starring Emma Thompson as the fearsome Miss Trunchbull it will launch the 66th edition of the festival at the Royal Festival Hall’s Southbank Centre on Wednesday October 5.
Warchus, who also developed and directed the stage show for the West End and Broadway, told the Standard: “I know that I speak on behalf of the entire cast and crew when I say how excited and honoured we feel to be opening such a culturally exciting and prestigious festival.
“It has been both a privilege and a huge responsibility to adapt the stage show into a movie. The goal was to try and honour the original stage musical and the theatre audience’s love for it whilst also creating an entirely fresh reimagining of the story.’’
Dublin schoolgirl Alisha landed the starring role in the film, which will be released in UK cinemas on December 2 ahead of it being screened on Netflix, after what Warchus described as a “massive search” lasting nine months, with the casting team touring the UK. Tony Award-winning director Warchus said: “Alisha gave a very impressive singing audition on tape. We ended up doing two Zoom auditions and then flew her to London for more sessions and a screen test.”
Thompson plays the villainous headteacher Miss Trunchbull, with Bond star Lynch as Miss Honey and Graham and Riseborough playing Matilda’s parents.
Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director, said: “It’s a delight to host the world premiere of this exceptional all-ages musical film in our opening night spot and take it out to audiences across the UK.
“This is a rollicking, rousing story about sticking together and fighting back against the bullies of the world, even when that seems scary. Sometimes you have to get a little bit naughty!”
The festival runs until Sunday October 16. After its World Premiere at the BFI Sony Pictures UK and TriStar Pictures will release the film in cinemas on December 2 in the UK and Ireland.