AFI FEST Will Close With ‘The Banker’ World Premiere, Apple’s Most High-Profile Play Yet

Another film from a major streaming service is squeaking its way, last minute, into the awards-season corridor. Apple TV+’s “The Banker” has just been announced as the closing night film of AFI FEST 2019, finishing the Los Angeles-based festival on Thursday, November 21, at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The event will mark the film’s world premiere. Starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult, and Nia Long, “The Banker” is directed by George Nolfi, who helmed 2011’s Philip K. Dick adaptation “The Adjustment Bureau” (a box-office disappointment at the time that has become something of a cult hit).

Though “The Banker” isn’t the first movie from Apple TV+, it’s the first that nobody has seen yet. Apple scooped the documentary “The Elephant Queen” (releasing October 18) and the drama “Hala” (November 22) out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. For “The Banker,” Bleecker Street will handle theatrical distribution, opening the movie on December 6 before it hits Apple TV+ for streaming in late January 2020 — a more generous theatrical window than most of Netflix’s awards-season heavy-hitters (a month for “Marriage Story” and even less for “The Irishman”). But not Amazon’s (they’re taking “The Report,” for one, to Prime Video two weeks after its theatrical opening on November 15).

The Apple TV+ streaming service officially launches November 1, and for a cool $4.99 a month.

From the festival, here’s the film’s synopsis: “Based on a true story, ‘The Banker’ centers on revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson), who devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racist establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Along with Garret’s wife Eunice (Long), they train a working class white man, Matt Steiner (Hoult), to pose as the rich and privileged face of their burgeoning real estate and banking empire — while Garrett and Morris pose as a janitor and a chauffeur. Their success ultimately draws the attention of the federal government, which threatens everything the four have built.”

“‘The Banker’ joins a remarkable group of films being released this year that openly confront centuries of racism and injustice in our country, while celebrating the brave individuals whose activism has created real change,” said AFI festivals director Michael Lumpkin in an official statement. As previously announced, the festival will open with the world premiere of Melina Matsoukas’ “Queen & Slim,” which also tackles racial injustice, on November 14.

“The Banker” is written by Niceole Levy, George Nolfi, David Lewis Smith, and Stan Younger. It’s produced by Romulus Entertainment and Iam21 Entertainment. Apple acquired the rights to the film back in July 2019.

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