• Thursday, Sep. 16, 2021
"King Richard" named closing night film for AFI Fest
Will Smith (l-r) as Richard Williams, Demi Singleton as Serena Williams and Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams in a scene from “King Richard.” (photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
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The American Film Institute (AFI) announced that AFI Fest 2021 will close with Warner Bros. Pictures’ King Richard, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green with cinematography by Robert Elswit (AFI Class of 1977) and starring two-time Academy Award® nominee Will Smith. Written by Zach Baylin and produced by Tim White and Trevor White’s Star Thrower Entertainment and Smith’s own banner, Westbrook, the film follows Richard Williams, an undeterred father who, with the support of his family, is instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. The closing night screening will take place on Sunday, November 14 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.

“AFI’s mission includes inspiring audiences, and King Richard sets the bar for this year,” said Sarah Harris, director of programming at AFI Festivals. “Movies often deliver when we need them most, and now is the perfect time for this film to remind young people that nothing is out of reach, and that with perseverance and determination they can influence future generations.”

The cast includes Smith, Aunjanue Ellis who plays the girls’ mom, Oracene “Brandy” Williams, Saniyya Sidney who stars as Venus Williams and Demi Singleton who portrays Serena Williams, with Tony Goldwyn as coach Paul Cohen and Jon Bernthal as coach Rick Macci. The ensemble also includes Andy Bean, Kevin Dunn and Craig Tate.

Isha Price, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Adam Merims, Lynn Harris, Allan Mandelbaum, Jon Mone and Peter Dodd served as the executive producers.

King Richard will be released in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max via the Ad-Free plan on November 19, 2021; it will be available on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release.

AFI Fest 2021 runs from Nov. 10-14 in Los Angeles. The world premiere of Netflix’s tick, tick…BOOM! directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda will open the festival.

This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists, and a gala event celebrating AFI Life Achievement honoree Julie Andrews.

With health and safety being top priority, AFI Fest 2021 will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated.

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