Paramount has pulled world premiere of The Soloist from AFI Fest opening night, due to new 2009 release date for potential awards vehicle.

Paramount has pulled its world premiere AFI Fest 2008 opening night screening of The Soloist that was due to screen next week, October 30, citing the new 2009 release date as the key reason for the withdrawal.

The drama about a journalist who finds a musical prodigy living homeless on the streets of Los Angeles had been eyed as a potential awards vehicle for Robert Downey Jr, who plays the journalist. Jamie Foxx plays the musician.

A replacement opening night film will be announced later today, October 23.

A joint statement from Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media read: 'Due to the change in The Soloist release date, we unfortunately had to withdraw from the AFI Fest Film Festival. It was an honour to be invited as the opening night film and we are very grateful to the festival for their support and understanding.

'The Soloist film-makers, DreamWorks, Universal, Participant and Paramount are very proud of this film and we are excited and committed to bring it to the world in March.'

AFI Fest artistic director Rose Kuo said: 'While we are greatly disappointed that AFI Fest will not have the opportunity to offer the world premiere of The Soloist, AFI's priority is to honour the artists. We wish to be supportive in any endeavour that will help a film of this quality reach a greater audience.'

AFI Fest 2008 will run from October 30-November 9.