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AFI Fest galas include 'Bird Box,' 'The Kominsky Method' and 'Buster Scruggs,' continuing Netflix's fall fest surge

AFI Fest galas include 'Bird Box,' 'The Kominsky Method' and 'Buster Scruggs,' continuing Netflix's fall fest surge
Grainger Hines is Mr. Arthur in "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," a film by Joel and Ethan Coen. (Netflix)

AFI Fest has added the world premieres of two Netflix titles — Susanne Bier’s dystopian thriller “Bird Box” and the first three episodes of Chuck Lorre’s comedy series “The Kominsky Method” — to its gala lineup for 2018. Following splashy world premieres at the Venice, Telluride, Toronto and Fantastic Fest film festivals, the AFI selections highlight the continued dominance of the streaming service over the fall festival season.

“Bird Box” stars Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson and John Malkovich in an adaptation of the post-apocalyptic novel by Josh Malerman. The film is scheduled for theatrical release and on Netflix on December 21.

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Starring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method,” which hits Netflix on Nov. 16, is an eight-episode, half-hour show created by Lorre, the TV powerhouse behind such shows as “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.”

The festival will also have a gala screening of another Netflix title, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” an anthology of western stories written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Featuring Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits, Liam Neeson, James Franco and Tyne Daly, the film has previously played at festivals in Venice and New York.

After winning the People’s Choice audience award in its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Universal’s “Green Book” is also set for an AFI gala screening. Directed by Peter Farrelly, the film stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in the story of a black pianist driven on a concert tour through the 1960s South.

Actresses Michelle Rodriguez, left, Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo from the film "Widows," photographed in the L.A. Times Photo and Video Studio at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Actresses Michelle Rodriguez, left, Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo from the film "Widows," photographed in the L.A. Times Photo and Video Studio at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

And Steve McQueen’s crime drama “Widows,” starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriquez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo, also gets the gala treatment just ahead of its Nov. 16 nationwide release. The critically acclaimed 20th Century Fox film had its world premiere in Toronto and recently had its West Coast premiere as part of Beyond Fest in Los Angeles.

Already announced for AFI Fest is the opening-night world premiere of Mimi Leder’s “On the Basis of Sex,” starring Felicity Jones in the story of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the closing-night world premiere of Josie Rourke’s historical drama “Mary Queen of Scots,” starring Saoirse Ronan in the title role and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I. Both films will be released by Focus Features.

A previously announced gala screening of Karyn Kusama’s action drama “Destroyer,” an Annapurna release which premiered in Telluride, will include an extended career retrospective conversation with star Nicole Kidman.

This year’s AFI Fest runs from Nov. 8-15 in Los Angeles.

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