International Film Festival Rotterdam now searching for a new closing night film.

Just days before their event opens, International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) organisers have been left scrambling for a new closing night film following the surprise decision to pull The King’s Speech from the festival.

Dirk de Lille, Senior Consultant of Paradiso Filmed Entertainment Benelux was quoted on the festival’s website saying: “As Dutch distributor of The King’s Speech, we regret the producer’s decision to withdraw the film from important film festivals for reasons of strategic repositioning. This was caused by the recent Golden Globe success and the expected BAFTA and Oscar awards for The King’s Speech. For this reason, no further festival screenings of The King’s Speech are allowed.”

However, it does not appear that next month’s screening of The King’s Speech as a Berlinale Special – Gala Screening is affected. A spokesperson from the Berlinale press office confirmed that the Berlin screening is expected to go ahead as planned.

“We had an agreement from Paradiso saying we could show The King’s Speech as closing night film but then they had back to us saying they were very sorry but that they hadn’t yet got permission from The Weinstein Company when they gave permission to us,” IFFR director Rutger Wolfson explained. “Of course, they feel terrible about it because it complicates their launch of the film in the Benelux and it puts us in a difficult situation.”

Contacted by Screen International, De Lille elaborated on the reasons for the last minute withdrawal of the film. “It’s not that big a deal,” De Lille said. “We submitted it (The King’s Speech) for approval after the holidays and we got the reaction of [the] Weinstein [Company] saying this cannot happen.”

The Dutch release of The King’s Speech is set for Feb 17.

Wolfson is expected to announce a new closing film shortly. He said he wasn’t unduly worried by the loss of The King’s Speech. “We hope (to announce a new closing film) tomorrow but we are double, double, triple, triple checking our licensing agreements.” Wolfson said the Festival had several options, all of which it was “pretty happy with.”

No guests from The King’s Speech had been due to attend IFFR.

IFFR opens on Wednesday (Jan 26) with the world première of the Greek film Wasted Youth from director Argyris Papadimitropoulos.