Robert Downey Jr The Judge

The Toronto International Film Festival has selected director David Dobkin’s drama “The Judge” as its opening night film on  Sept. 4.

The Warner Bros.-Village Roadshow release stars Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton.

“The Judge” had been announced Tuesday as a world premiere at the festival’s unveiling of most of its lineup, then was elevated to the opening slot on Friday.

“The stars aligned and we are thrilled to announce that we will kick off the festival with The Judge,” said Piers Handling, the fest’s director and CEO. “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.”

Downey portrays a big city lawyer who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father (played by Duvall) who’s also the town’s judge is suspected of murder. Thornton plays the prosecutor.

The film, set in Indiana and produced by Dobkin’s Big Kid Pictures and Downey’s Team Downey, was shot last year in Massachusetts. “The Judge” will be released in the U.S. on Oct. 10.

“I brought my first film, ‘Clay Pigeons,’ to Toronto, so 15 years later to actually be on opening night with ‘The Judge’ is incredibly special and thrilling,” Dobkin said.

DreamWorks’ thriller “The Fifth Estate” opened the festival last year and sci-fier “Looper” was the 2012 opening title.

“We are so proud to be taking ‘The Judge’ to TIFF, and honored to be in the opening night slot,” said Warner’s marketing-distribution chief Sue Kroll. “The film is truly deserving and we believe the always-discerning audience in Toronto will appreciate it as much as we do.”

Warner Bros. used the Toronto festival in 2012 as the North American premiere for “Argo” and again last year for “Gravity.”

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