TORONTO - So, easy answers to the three most asked questions about the world premiere of "The Magnificent Seven" at last evening's Opening Night of the 41st annual international film festival are:
YES -- Superstar Denzel Washington did show up to thunderous applause before both 6:30 and 8 p.m. screenings at different venues.
NO -- Though based on John Sturges' 1960 western, this "re-imagination" from director Anthony Fuqua is not even a close carbon copy of that classic original, and easily stands on its own.
YES -- Fuqua does pay homage to the original's iconic "Marlboro Man" theme by nicely including composer Elmer Bernstein's familiar strains in one key spot.
The same director who brought two other Washington films to Toronto also attended, and most of his high-powered cast came with him.
"First, 'Training Day,' then 'The Equalizer'," Fuqua said, before the 6:30 screening at the Princess of Wales Theater. "So 'Mag7,' here we go!"
The director then introduced his players, including Haley Bennett, who in this version plays an angry widow hiring Washington's bounty hunter to rid her town of a ruthless robber baron (Peter Sarsgaard).
Sarsgaard, who makes a grand entrance in the movie, came on stage, too, and so did the six actors playing the other diverse characters Washington recruits to complete his spectacular septet.
Fuqua introduced them in this order: Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Byung Hun-Lee, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt.
With crowd noises swelling with each name Fuqua mentioned, he barely had time to call out Washington, who already was quick-stepping right behind the very popular Pratt.
Fuqua then made special note of the untimely recent passing of renowned composer James Horner who died before filming.
"Thanks, James, for giving us seven special numbers before you died," he said. "Amazingly, he did it all without ever seeing a piece of finished film."
As the film concluded to Horner's music, the always-adoring Toronto audience gave it a couple of standing ovations before heading out into the humid night to wait for an equally special Opening Night party at TIFF's Bell Lightbox home.
In fact, after enjoying a menu that included hors d'oeuvres highlighted by sushi and shucked oysters, one patron was overheard calling it all, "C'est magnifique!" Naturally!
Return here Saturday for first weekend coverage from the Toronto International Film Festival.
More info is also available at http://www.tiff.net/tiff/