In what resembles a richly colored fantasyland, there are banners, billboards and pop-up displays for the likes of Warner Bros’ Mad Max: Fury Road, Paramount’s Terminator: Genisys, Sony’s Pixels, Fox’s The Peanuts Movie and Disney’s Inside Out adorning the front of the Carlton Hotel here as Cannes gets underway. The studio battlefield marketing presence isn’t unusual, nor perhaps even increased, but in a week where folks fear a paucity of parties, is it a sign of the majors’ preferred use of Cannes as a promotional tool?
Despite an unusually strong dollar that could have taken some of the sting out of paying for champagne by the Midas-load, there’s the sense that this will be a lackluster 10 days for Croisette nightcrawlers used to free food and drink. So far, there hasn’t been word of the must-have party invite nor of stunts akin to last year’s star-studded storming of the Croisette by the Expendables 3 crew.
There are various schools of thought here regarding the bang for your buck that Cannes brings. It’s expensive to fly in and wrangle talent that can require coteries of handlers — and bodyguards to keep an eye on borrowed jewels in this heist-happy haven, as a Euro exec notes. But the upside of the vast global media coverage is an all-in-one opportunity to grab the spotlight – and that, most agree, is money well-spent.
On the festivity front, one veteran Cannes-goer says, “You don’t get any equity because you throw a fancy party.” But Vincent Maraval, of French powerhouse Wild Bunch, chimes, “Let’s be very clear: All money spent on partying is worth it.”
Wild Bunch has a stake in the film that opened the festival tonight, Emmanuelle Bercot’s French drama Standing Tall, via its relationship with sales company Elle Driver. This film is something of a departure after recent years that have seen such starry titles as Grace Of Monaco, The Great Gatsby, Moonrise Kingdom and Robin Hood frontload the red carpet. A reception was being held at the Palm Beach venue that has previously been home to events for the likes of Austin Powers and Blues Brothers 2000.
The studios that are prepping events here include Disney, which is celebrating the Out of Competition screening of Pixar’s Inside Out on Monday with a beach soirée. Paramount has French rights to The Little Prince, also Out of Competition, but the studio, I understand, isn’t planning anything at large. Sony, Fox and Universal have no big plans, while Warner Bros is hosting a private dinner for the cast and filmmakers of Mad Max: Fury Road, which arrives Out of Competition tomorrow.
Warner, which successfully opened Cannes with The Great Gatsby two years ago, and held a very memorable soirée despite torrential rains, will use this festival as its international Max junket.
Sue Kroll, Warners’ President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, says the benefit this year of being in Cannes with Mad Max “is the pedigree of the festival coupled with what we think is a unique yet broad, commercial film with critical appeal. The timing is perfect as we open this week and the film can benefit from the worldwide exposure Cannes affords as well as the pedigree.”
George Miller’s return to the postapocalyptic Outback will see stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron on the red carpet, snapped in photos that will travel the globe. With great early reviews, the Mad Max team should be rolling into Cannes on a high.
Disney’s Paul Roeder tells me that having Inside Out premiering in Cannes is “a huge honor and of course a great global platform.” Pixar’s Up opened the festival six years ago, and this is a return for helmer Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera. “With Pixar films having tremendous global appeal, this feels like the perfect launch,” says Roeder.
As for Lionsgate, which has habitually thrown a big Cannes bash as a marketing platform for The Hunger Games franchise and has Mockingjay Part 2 culminating the series later this year, word is there will not be a party this go-round. An annual marketing presentation is understood to be going forward. And the Majestic Hotel is ablaze with branding. Lionsgate, already active in the market here, also is holding a do for Competition title Sicario, the Denis Villeneuve-helmed film that stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro and screens Tuesday.
As with many of the Competition films and others from the sidebars, there are some parties planned post-screening — normally peppered along the beaches of the main drag. Nikki Beach will host the party for the Fortnight’s A Perfect Day, and representative Julie Fogel says they’ve not seen a change in the amount of traffic in the past several years but allows that weather has been an issue. Back in 2012, it poured incessantly, effectively drowning some of the events scattered across town.
Outside the movies, Vanity Fair is not doing its swanky Hotel du Cap affair this year. I’m told there’s “no mystery” to it. “We just don’t do a party every year,” says Condé Nast spokesperson Beth Kseniak.
Charles Finch is hosting his annual and exclusive Filmmakers Dinner at the Du Cap, and next Thursday AmFar will hold its annual Cinema Against AIDS fundraising fête with stars packing the Antibes palace. The attendees roster includes Sharon Stone, Isabella Rossellini, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rosario Dawson, Diane Kruger, Aishwarya Rai, Abishek Bachchan, Frances McDormand, Joel Coen and Harvey Weinstein. They will see performances by Imagine Dragons, Mary J. Blige and Charli XCX.
There are also get-togethers for fashion houses, company launches and announcements planned aboard boats in the harbor. (Needing a bigger boat, Paul Allen’s annual yacht soirée is typically a Monday night affair.)
Back on the film side, Wild Bunch has a reputation for throwing some of the most outrageous bashes of the past decade and more (think Slip ‘N Slides and carnival games). This year, there’s a soirée planned for Gaspar Noé’s Love, which screens late in the festival. In typical fashion, it’ll start at 2 AM and run through till 7 AM.