The 66th BFI London Film Festival (5 to 16 October) in partnership with American Express is excited to announce that this year’s opening night gala will be Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, starring Academy Award winner Emma Thompson, Lashana Lynch, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough, Sindhu Vee and introducing Alisha Weir as the eponymous Matilda.

The film will receive its world premiere on Wednesday 5 October at the Southbank Centre in the Royal Festival Hall, ahead of Sony Pictures UK and TriStar Pictures releasing the film exclusively in cinemas on 2 December in the UK and Ireland. Filmmaker and cast attendance is expected and there will also be simultaneous preview screenings of the film taking place at multiple cinemas across the UK

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Directed by Tony Award-winning director Matthew Warchus, who also developed and directed the stage show for both London’s West End and Broadway, the film is produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner for Working Title, Jon Finn and Luke Kelly of The Roald Dahl Story Company. Screenwriter Dennis Kelly adapts the Tony Award- and Olivier Award-winning, Royal Shakespeare Company’s production for the big screen, with original music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical is an inspirational musical tale of an extraordinary girl who discovers her superpower and summons the remarkable courage, against all odds, to help others change their stories, whilst also taking charge of her own destiny. Standing up for what’s right, she’s met with miraculous results.

“What a delight to be opening this tremendous film festival with singing, dancing, green hair and chocolate cake,” says director Matthew Warchus.” It’s a real honour to be sharing this joyful and empowering tale of a little girl’s courage and compassion at such a prestigious event.”

“Like so many people who have been lucky enough to see it, I am a massive fan of this original stage musical, with Tim Minchin’s infectiously brilliant songs bringing new depth to a classic of children’s literature,” says Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director. “With screenwriter Dennis Kelly, Matthew Warchus has smartly adapted his own production for the screen with absolute verve and gusto. And what a cast: Alisha Weir is a revelation as Matilda; Emma Thompson is a chillingly nasty Trunchbull and Lashana Lynch’s Miss Honey will melt your heart. 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 with Sony Pictures. 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!”

Matilda Wormwood (Alisha Weir) is a little girl with big curiosity, a sharp mind and a vivid imagination – and the worst parents in the world. While her parents (Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough) content themselves with trashy TV and dodgy money-making schemes, she loves to lose herself in the pages of her beloved books. Where they are loud, selfish and unkind she is a quiet observer, thinking up small and cheeky acts of rebellion and revenge.  

On meeting her inspirational teacher, Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch), Matilda is encouraged and begins conjuring her own fantastical tales. Excited to attend Crunchem Hall, Matilda is surprised to find the school is an ominous and oppressive place led by the huge and villainous Miss Trunchbull (Emma Thompson). As well as kind Miss Honey, the bright lights among the meanness are story-loving librarian, Mrs. Phelps (Sindhu Vee), and Matilda’s newfound school friends. Filled with an overwhelming sense of justice, Matilda dares to take a stand for what is right and teach Trunchbull a lesson she won’t forget.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical is a Working Title Films/Roald Dahl Story Company production and will be released by Sony Pictures UK and TriStar Pictures across the UK and Ireland exclusively in cinemas on 2 December 2022. Netflix will release the film across the world [excluding the UK and Ireland] this holiday season. 

The 66th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place from Wednesday 5 October to Sunday 16 October, 2022. The BFI LFF programme launch will take place on Thursday 1 September, 2022.

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