Baz Luhrmann’s 3D adaptation of The Great Gatsby will kick off the 66th Cannes Film Festival on May 15, organizers said today. The Warner Bros drama will screen in the out-of-competition selection. The latest adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke. It opens in the U.S. on May 10 but day-and-date with its May 15 Cannes launch in France.
This was basically a no-brainer decision. Luhrmann is a favorite of the festival, and his 2001 musical drama Moulin Rouge still remains one of the splashiest opening nights in Cannes history with an elaborate, very expensive party thrown by distributor 20th Century Fox afterward. Those who were there (I was among them) will not soon forget the extragance of it all, and certainly if any other movie might deserve the same opulent treatment it is Luhrmann’s Gatsby, which was delayed from an awards-season opening in 2012 by Warner Bros so the director could continue to refine the ambitious film. Whether the studio will spring for a kickoff like a party Jay Gatsby himself might throw remains an open question, especially since it won’t be the world premiere of the film, but nevertheless it is worth the speculation.
Exhibitors actually got their first look at the 3D drama almost a full year ago when Warners previewed footage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas as part of their 2012 slate sneak look. After it was delayed by the studio into a 2013 debut, a Cannes opening seemed inevitable, particularly with the prospect of getting big star names like DiCaprio, Maguire and Mulligan to come to the Croisette for a glamorous European premiere.
When I saw Cannes Festival director and chief programmer Thierry Fremaux at the Oscars two weeks ago, he was holding any film decisions close to his vest and actually was here in Los Angeles checking out some possibilities although he would only admit to the fact that his main reason for being in LA was to support eventual Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner Amour, which won the 2012 Palme d’Or. With Steven Spielberg as the long sought-after jury head this year it will be interesting to see what he comes up with. When we spoke at the French consulate day-after-the-Oscars gathering of French nominees, he indicated he hadn’t yet seen some much-talked about contenders like the Coen brothers’ latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, which CBS Films has picked up for a fall release domestically. The Coens are a Cannes favorite, having launched several of their films on the Riviera including No Country For Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Ladykillers, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy and Barton Fink. A berth for Davis would seem likely but no one is talking at this point. CBS Films head Terry Press told me on Oscar weekend that she had been chasing the film for some time and that it is pure Coen Brothers material. Whether it is headed as a key U.S. entry in Cannes is still an open question.
As for the film we know is going to Cannes, Gatsby, its director Luhrmann said, “We are thrilled to return to a country, place and festival that has always been so close to our hearts, not only because my first film Strictly Ballroom was screened there 21 years ago but also because F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote some of the most poignant and beautiful passages of his extraordinary novel just a short distance away at a villa outside St. Raphael.”