‘Doubt’ to open AFI festival

Meryl Streep film replaces 'The Soloist'

Miramax’s “Doubt” has been slotted as the new opener for AFI FEST 2008. An unfinished version of helmer John Patrick Shanley’s period drama starring Meryl Streep will replace “The Soloist,” which Paramount pulled after moving the pic’s release to March 2009.

Paramount’s move came eight days before “The Soloist’s” world preem at the fest.

Though “greatly disappointed,” AFI FEST artistic director Rose Kuo promised to fill the slot in 24 hours, putting pressure on herself and the staff to find a weighty pic.

“The movie is still being finished, but we were so excited to show “Doubt” and help our friends at AFI FEST and the American Film Institute at the same time. We couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity,” said Miramax president Daniel Battsek.

“We are grateful to Miramax Films and producers Scott Rudin and Mark Roybal for providing AFI the honor of premiering this highly anticipated, unfinished version of “Doubt.” There is no doubt that bringing together Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams in concert with the extraordinary talents of writer/director John Patrick Shanley promises an evening that will celebrate the finest in American film,” said Kuo.

Paramount’s other awards contender, Edward Zwick’s “Defiance” starring Daniel Craig will still close the fest. Other Gala screenings include Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler,” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Che.”

AFI FEST runs October 30 – November 9.