Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis strutted its way up the Cannes Film Festival red carpet this evening for the film’s world premiere which was greeted by explosive applause inside the Palais.
The crowd got to its feet during the end credits on the Warner Bros title, clapping in rhythm before the lights came up, and remained standing for 10 minutes to mark a 2022 record so far at the festival.
Amid shouts of “Bravo!” from the crowd, an emotional Luhrmann told the audience inside the Lumière Theatre he’d had a “bit of an epiphany” because “30 years ago my wife and I made a little film called Strictly Ballroom” and the one exhibitor who had given him one screen said, “That is the worst film I have ever seen, and you have ruined the career of Pat [Thomson],” who went on to win Best Actress from the Australian Film Academy posthumously.
‘Elvis’ Review: Tom Hanks And Austin Butler In Baz Luhrmann’s Musical Feast Of A Biopic
“Anyway,” added Luhrmann, “we went up the coast and I had very long hair. We were staying in a trailer park, and I was saying, ‘This film thing is never really going to work out,’ so I started shaving my hair off and I got a call on the telephone and it was a Frenchman. … On the phone somebody said, ‘Hello, my name is Pierre Rissient, I am from the Cannes Film Festival, and we have seen your film and we would like to offer you a 12 o’clock screening at the Palais.'” Ultimately, Luhrmann and Strictly Ballroom “were in this Palais … and at the end of the performance, I remember a security guard came over and said, ‘Monsieur, from this moment on, your life will never be the same again.’ And it wasn’t.”
Luhrmann noted that, while making Elvis, “I really believed that we would come to Cannes, but then the Covid came and the film was shut down and it was never going to happen, but for the bravery of Tom [Hanks] to come back and the bravery of this cast and this crew to go on through Covid and finish this film. And we are back in Cannes. And to see these streets so full of people who love movies of every form of life, every kind of movie, says so much more about what this place means and what it means to be back in the cinema. For that we are eternally grateful, Cannes. … All I can say is, merci beaucoup, merci beaucoup.”
Ahead of the screening, guests arrived to the strains of Elvis Presley classics including “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock.” Stars Austin Butler, Hanks and Olivia DeJonge were in attendance, as well as Priscilla Presley, whom the latter portrays in the film.
In his review, Deadline’s Pete Hammond called Elvis a “visual and vocal feast of a movie.”
The story explores Elvis Presley’s (Butler) life and music as seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks). The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning more than 20 years. Luhrmann said at CinemaCon last month that Elvis covers three versions of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll: as a rebel, as a Hollywood star and in his Vegas twilight. All unfolds against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Also central to the journey is one of the most significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, his wife of six years, Priscilla Presley.
Also at CinemaCon, Luhrmann explained: “Elvis is kind of the original superhero. He rises so high, then finds his Kryptonite and falls so low, and then a beautiful, powerful tragedy ensues.”
Warner Bros begins offshore rollout for Elvis on June 22 and releases domestically on June 24.
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