After last week’s Toronto International Film Festival press conference there was a lot of talk as to why they hadn’t announced the opening night film. Some thought they were waiting on word to see if the new film by Jason Reitman, Tully, would be completed on time. Others still thought that perhaps they were waiting to make a big splash by announcing Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 as the festival opener. Both would have made sense, after all both Canadian directors have a long standing relationship with TIFF, and either would have been perfect to announce during next week’s Canadian Press Conference. Instead however, TIFF announced yesterday that Shia LeBeouf’s new film, Borg/McEnroe, will open the 42nd edition of the festival on September 7th.
Borg/McEnroe is the second tennis film the festival has announced (Battles of the Sexes will also screen during the festival), and it too features a true story rivalry that was a highlight of late 70s tennis. It tells the story of the Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg (played by Sverrur Gudnason) and the American John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), and the epic clashes the two had, highlighted by the 1980 Wimbledon Championships match-up. The film is directed by Janus Metz and also stars Stellan Skarsgard.
Director and CEO of TIFF Piers Handling released a statement that said “‘Borg/McEnroe’ has a powerful tension about it that is on par with the electric energy of Toronto on Opening Night. The story of this nail-biter matchup changed the sport of tennis forever, and the outstanding performances from LaBeouf and Gudnason will be a spectacular way for Festival-goers to kick things off.”
In the same statement the films director said “I am extremely honored by TIFF’s selection of ‘Borg/McEnroe’ as the opening film. It is a great celebration and recognition of everyone in the cast and crew who worked so hard to make this film what it is. We had very high ambitions for this project and have come such a long way together. I’m very excited that we can finally let the film out into the world, and I couldn’t dream of a better way of doing this.”
After TIFF, the film is scheduled for a North American release next year.