Cannes Kick-Off: ‘Gatsby’ Glitz, ‘Catching Fire’ Heat, Festival Jury’s Spielberg Meal

CANNES: Hollywood excess hasn’t disappeared entirely from the 66th Festival De Cannes. But it will be limited to a few studios. Warner Bros is bringing Baz Luhrmann’s lush The Great Gatsby to town for opening night and a gala event. Lionsgate is organizing a beach blowout to promote Catching Fire even though it doesn’t release until November. Fox is making a big deal of the 50th anniversary of Cleopatra, partnering with Bulgari jewelers for a reception displaying pieces from Elizabeth Taylor’s personal collection after a screening of the movie’s new restoration. Even the Cannes jury met for the first time last night, rather fittingly, for dinner at the Palme d’Or restaurant in the Martinez Hotel where the chef prepared a meal inspired by jury president Steven Spielberg’s films. And of course, billionaire Paul Allen’s yacht is expected to turn up in the bay with his annual super-exclusive party falling on May 20. But it’s not all champagne and bikinis on the boats. One exec who’s on a monster yacht each year at Cannes tells me it’s a cost-efficient way to do business rather than just a showy splurge. And even though some Cannes parties can cost $3 million, Warner Bros opened its wallets.

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One executive calls it “a victory lap” for The Great Gatsby after grossing way above expectations in North America. Now the studio wants to generate buzz internationally for the film adaptation of this most American of novels. No problem, because the rules state a movie can be released in its own country and still have its international premiere at Cannes. So Warner Bros is using this glitzy platform to open in 49 territories on the weekend including France, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia and Korea.

The full cast and filmmakers will attend tonight including Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, producers Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick, and several studio bigwigs led by Warner Bros Pictures chief Jeff Robinov. In 2001 Luhrmann opened the festival with Fox’s Moulin Rouge and one of the most memorable soirées, replete with Can Can girls, trapeze artists and Fat Boy Slim as deejay. The Gatsby after-party will evoke the Roaring 20s with help from partners Samsung, Tiffany, Moët, Brook Brothers and Chivas. There’s a gargantuan structure the size of an airplane hangar set up on a jetty across the port from the Palais where locals are already lining up for the screening Wednesday night. On Thursday night, the Gatsby party structure will be home to a soirée for about 800 locals. This isn’t an official festival event; rather it’s organized by the town each year and Warner Bros agreed to leave up the Gatsby décor for it.

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