Robert Downey Jr.'s 'The Judge' to Open Toronto Film Festival

The Toronto Film Festival will open its 2014 edition with David Dobkin’s family drama The Judge, which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.

The Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow release was initially booked for a world premiere in the Special Presentations sidebar, but at week's end was promoted to the plum opening night slot.

“The stars aligned and we are thrilled to announce that we will kick off the festival with The Judge,” said Piers Handling, director and CEO of the Toronto festival, in a statement Friday about the studio film.

“David Dobkin has delivered a moving, textured story about family, duty and the way we remember our past. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to this year’s event," Handling added.

The Big Kid Pictures/Team Downey film also stars Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton.

At a Tuesday press conference, Handling and Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey surprised attendees by not unveiling their opening night choice when announcing the first titles for the September event. But on Friday, Bailey and Handling were praising The Judge's performances, especially those of Downey Jr. and Duvall, as they unveiled their choice for the Sept. 4 opener.

In The Judge, Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.) returns to his childhood home where his estranged father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

Dobkin had his first film, Clay Pigeons, screen in Toronto 15 years ago, and now returns in September to open the prestigious film festival.

“The festival audiences are terrific, and I know I speak for everyone involved in the film when I say we are so pleased to be unveiling it there," he said in his own statement.

Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and international distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures, welcomed The Judge launching the Toronto festival this year.

"The film is truly deserving and we believe the always-discerning audience in Toronto will appreciate it as much as we do," she said.

The 2014 Toronto Film Festival is set to run Sept. 4-14.

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