Venice taps 'Everest' to open festival as hopes climb

"Everest" has been an intriguing film since it was announced, then delayed by financing problems, then put back on again.

Now expectations are raised higher than well, you know, for the adventure drama, with the fact-based movie tapped Wednesday to open this year's Venice Film Festival.

Venice, which kicks off Sept. 2, is the first of the premiere-laden fall festivals, with  subsequent gatherings in Telluride, Toronto and New York. The opener slot is a prestigious one, and bodes well both commercially and on the awards podium. Cases in point: Last year's opener was "Birdman," and 2013's was "Gravity."

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Set in 1996, "Everest"  chronicles a doomed set of rival expeditions on the mythic mountain that claimed the lives of eight climbers during a massive blizzard. It follows some of the same story chronicled by Jon Krakauer in his adventure bestseller "Into Thin Air" as well as other books on the events.

The film, which will be presented in 3-D, has enough stars to fill an REI Pinnacle climbing pack: Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke as rival expedition leaders, Josh Brolin as a doctor, Emily Watson as a base camp manager  and  Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington and Robin Wright rounding out the cast.

Shot partly in Nepal, the film is directed by Baltasar Kormakur, the Icelandic filmmaker behind American action movies "2 Guns" and "Contraband." He also has plenty of experience in extreme cinematic environments, having directed the 2012 survival tale "The Deep."

The movie has commercial and, with the fest announcement, likely awards ambitions as well. Universal will  open the movie in IMAX and special-format theaters Sept. 18 before going wide Sept. 25.

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

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