The Front Runner (film)
|The Front Runner|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jason Reitman|
|Based on||All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid|
by Matt Bai
|Music by||Rob Simonsen|
|Edited by||Stefan Grube|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$2 million|
The Front Runner is a 2018 American biographical drama film directed by Jason Reitman, based on the 2014 book All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai, who co-wrote the screenplay with Reitman and Jay Carson. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J. K. Simmons, and Alfred Molina. It chronicles the rise of American Senator Gary Hart, a Democratic presidential candidate in 1988, and his subsequent fall from grace when media reports surfaced of his extramarital affair.
The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 6, 2018, by Columbia Pictures. The film received mixed reviews; while Jackman was praised for his performance, critics said the rest of the cast felt wasted and the film did not "dive deep enough into its central issues to make a compelling argument."
Gary Hart, a U.S. senator from Colorado, is the widely accepted frontrunner in the race for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. After losing the 1984 nomination to vice-president Walter Mondale, Hart decides to run in 1988 for President of the United States to the delight of his family.
At one point during his campaign, against the will of his campaign manager Bill Dixon, Hart challenges the press and public to follow him around while he’s not doing election work. This proves to be a mistake when in 1988, photos of him and journalist Donna Rice are published by Miami Herald Reporters. Hart tries to fix his reputation at a news event concerning the affair but to no avail.
Because of the consequences of his actions, Hart is disgraced and forced to drop out of the campaign while his wife Oletha filed for divorce (though they ultimately have remained married). Donna is also fired from her job due to her involvement with the now infamous former senator.
- Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart
- Vera Farmiga as Oletha "Lee" Hart, Gary's wife
- J. K. Simmons as Bill Dixon, campaign manager
- Alfred Molina as Ben Bradlee, editor of The Washington Post
- Sara Paxton as Donna Rice, Hart's alleged mistress
- Mamoudou Athie as A.J. Parker, fictional Washington Post reporter
- John Bedford Lloyd as David S. Broder, Washington Post reporter
- Spencer Garrett as Bob Woodward, Washington Post reporter
- Steve Coulter as Bob Kaiser, Washington Post editor
- Ari Graynor as Ann Devroy, Washington Post reporter
- Kaitlyn Dever as Andrea Hart, Gary's daughter
- Toby Huss as Billy Broadhurst, lobbyist
- Steve Zissis as Tom Fiedler, Miami Herald reporter
- Bill Burr as Pete Murphy, fictional Miami Herald reporter
- Mike Judge as Jim Savage, Miami Herald investigations editor
- Kevin Pollak as Bob Martindale, fictional Miami Herald publisher
- Tommy Dewey as John B. Emerson, deputy campaign manager
- Molly Ephraim as Irene Kelly, fictional Hart campaign scheduler
- Josh Brener as Doug Wilson, Hart campaign policy advisor
- Mark O'Brien as Billy Shore, Hart's body man
- Alex Karpovsky as Mike Stratton, Hart campaign advance man
- Oliver Cooper as Joe Trippi, Hart campaign deputy political director
- Chris Coy as Kevin Sweeney, Hart campaign press secretary
- Courtney Ford as Lynn Armandt, friend of Donna Rice
- Theodore Murphy as Georgetown Student
Political columnist Matt Bai became interested in American Senator Gary Hart after writing a 2003 profile of him for The New York Times; he released the book on which the film is based, All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, in 2014. The screenplay was written by filmmaker Jason Reitman, Bai, and former Hillary Clinton press secretary Jay Carson; Reitman also produced with Helen Estabrook for Right of Way Films, and Aaron L. Gilbert produced for Bron Studios.
In June 2017, it was reported that Hugh Jackman would portray Gary Hart in The Front Runner. In August 2017, the extended cast list for the film was announced, including Vera Farmiga as Hart's wife Oletha "Lee" Hart, Kaitlyn Dever as their daughter Andrea Hart, Sara Paxton as Donna Rice, Ari Graynor as journalist Ann Devroy, and J. K. Simmons as Bill Dixon, Hart's 1988 presidential campaign manager and longtime friend. The following month, Jennifer Landon and John Bedford Lloyd joined the cast in unspecified roles. In October 2017, Chris Coy was cast as press secretary Kevin Sweeney.
In May 2018, Sony Pictures and Stage 6 Films acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film at the 71st Cannes Film Festival, with a planned awards season release. The Front Runner had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on August 31, 2018. It then screened at the Toronto International Film Festival beginning September 8, 2018.
The Front Runner began a limited release on November 6, 2018, the first film to ever be released on an Election Day, which is usually on Tuesday. It then expanded to 22 theaters on November 16, 2018, and nationwide on November 21, 2018.
The Front Runner made $6,849 from four theaters on its first day, Tuesday (an average of $1,712), a figure Deadline Hollywood noted as underwhelming; however, the site wrote that it is rare for a film to open limited on a Tuesday, and the film's impending opening weekend would be the true gauge of its box office strength. The film ended up making $56,000 in its opening weekend (a six-day total of $76,199), which Deadline called "awful" and "really horrible when you consider that it's a limited launch of an awards contender wannabe."
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 58% based on 160 reviews, and an average rating of 6.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Front Runner exhumes the wreckage of a political campaign with well-acted wit, even if it neglects to truly analyze the issues it raises." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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