TORONTO (AP) — The Jackie Kennedy biopic "Jackie," starring Natalie Portman, has been acquired by Fox Searchlight, which plans to push the film directly into the Oscar season.
Searchlight announced the acquisition early Tuesday shortly after the Pablo Larrain-directed film played at the Toronto International Film Festival. Though the market has been quiet in Toronto, "Jackie" has been the most hotly pursued film since its Venice Film Festival debut last week. The film cuts between the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy and other moments in the first lady's life.
Fox Searchlight will release the movie Dec. 9, and it's widely expected to catapult Portman into the best-actress Oscar race. Fox's specialty division is an awards season regular that has ushered many films into the Academy Awards, including best-picture winners "12 Years a Slave" and "Birdman," as well as Portman's own "Black Swan," which won her best actress.
Searchlight's other fall release, Nate Parker's Nat Turner slave revolt drama "The Birth of a Nation," had been seen as the studio's horse in this year's Oscar race. But that film's awards hopes have been badly damaged by a rape accusation from Parker's past. In Toronto, Parker deflected questions about the case in a press conference.
"Pablo Larrain's 'Jackie' is a daring, one-of-a-kind cinematic portrayal of a beloved icon," said Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula.
Movies aren't often acquired in Toronto and so quickly put into theaters. Usually they open sometime the following year. But Fox Searchlight has managed it before; in 2008, it picked up Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," and led it to Oscar nods for both Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei.