Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, and Sean Penn stood on the stage of the Roy Thomanson Hall with director Steve Zaillian before the Gala screening of their film All the King’s Men (2006). Each had been greeted with enormous applause from the appreciative Toronto audience, Gandolfini and Penn drawing the largest ovations. Two hours later the film ended to polite applause and then almost deafening silence. As is the custom, the spot lights shone on the middle seats of the first balcony where the stars sit, allowing the stars and director to take their bow.
No one was there. No one.
They had recognized what the audience now knew, that the film was terrible and left the building rather than face the music.
The next day the word had spread like wildfire, All the King’s Men (2006) was an unmitigated disaster. It was discussed in the hallways leading to the press office, in the lobbies of the hotels where interviews were being conducted, and in screenings across the city. It seemed clear that nothing could put the remake back together again.
The troubled film arrived at TIFF with advance word about the troubles they had encountered during filming, from script issues, weather, a weak first cut, re-shoots and finally a cut that everyone knew upon seeing was a shadow of what they had been hoping to create. To say the atmosphere in the Roy Thomson Hall was, awkward after the screening, is an understatement. Everyone had witnessed the unveiling off a dud, and nearly everyone leaving the building knew it. For me, it represents a necessary evil for the film festival, as they need Hollywood product, and this one seemed like a great Hollywood product. Look at the names, it was a remake (of sorts) of an Academy Award winning Best Picture, Sean Penn was cast in what might have bene one of his greatest roles, but sadly nothing worked.
Suffice to say, it was one red carpet Gala that goes down in TIFF history for all the wrong reasons.