Toronto 2012: 'Looper's' Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt Bring Star Power on Opening Night

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From left: Bruce WIllis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt

"I hope you like this film. If you don't, it's going to be awkward," director Rian Johnson told the Roy Thomson Hall audience.

TORONTO ­-- Idiosyncratic director Rian Johnson pulled out all the stops as he debuted Looper, his time-traveling mind bender, to the opening-night audience at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"I hope you like this film. If you don't, it's going to be awkward," the American director told a glitzy Roy Thomson Hall audience.

STORY: Bruce Willis on Performing Opposite His Younger Self in 'Looper'

Johnson brought his second film, Brothers Bloom, to TIFF in 2008 after his first film, Brick, debuted in Sundance.

On Thursday night, his sci-fi thriller, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hitman hired to kill a future version of himself, played by Bruce Willis, grabbed a global media spotlight in Toronto.

"Wow, this is incredible. It is such an honor to do the world premiere of Looper in front of a crowd in Toronto that loves film," Johnson insisted.

The significance of a theatrical drama that pulls the trigger on the future wasn't lost on TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey, who introduced the film in Toronto.

"It's time to step into the future," he said, ushering Johnson and his Looper cast onto the Roy Thomson Hall stage.


Johnson's film was a suitable first-night choice for a prestige festival that is heavily weighted to U.S. movies, whether from the major studios or indie producers.

Bailey also noted Looper was a China-U.S. co-production.

"It's not that common yet. But this is the future of the film industry," he proclaimed.

Earlier, Willis, Gordon-Levitt, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo and Emily Blunt were among the stars to shine on the red carpet outside Roy Thomson Hall as TIFF's 37th annual cinema showcase got underway.