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Cannes Picks Luhrmann's 'Great Gatsby' to Open Fest May 15, After its Stateside Release UPDATED

by Anne Thompson
March 12, 2013 1:53 AM
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DiCaprio and Luhrmann on the set of "The Great Gatsby'
DiCaprio and Luhrmann on the set of "The Great Gatsby'

Cannes opening night is always Fest Delegate General Thierry Frémaux's biggest headache. How to find the right combination of "big" movie with artistic pretensions directed by a proven auteur delivering some glamorous stars for the red carpet? All too often, the actual quality of the film is irrelevant. Thus the opening night of the 66th Festival du Cannes is "The Great Gatsby," Warner Bros.' 3-D spectacular from Baz Luhrmann. The Australian filmmaker memorably opened the fest with Fox's "Moulin Rouge" in 2001, with one of the best parties I have ever been to in my life. I remember Rupert Murdoch dancing with Nicole Kidman, among other things. 

"It is a great honor for all those who have worked on The Great Gatsby to open the Cannes Film Festival," said Luhrmann. "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."

'The Great Gatsby'
'The Great Gatsby'

UPDATED While Warners is using the fest to launch the movie in France the same day, followed by many cities around the world, they're sticking to their original plan of a May 1 world premiere in New York, followed by a May 10 opening.

The studio may be hoping the Fest will add some cred to the film, which is tainted from having been moved back from an awards-qualifying 2012 berth to a more forgiving popcorn audience summer date, presumably because the movie wasn't going to play for critics. But the studio and Luhrmann are taking a real chance here. This is unusual--Cannes usually insists on world premieres--and risky.

Even if the F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation opens well stateside and is out of competition, it still must face the world's least forgiving press corps on the morning before the opening night red carpet gala. If the movie is opening around the world right away, a bad reaction won't have much impact, right? But Brian Grazer and Ron Howard weren't too thrilled with the jeers that met "The Da Vinci Code" when they opened Cannes, even if they were laughing all the way to the bank. 

But the fest is thrilled to have Leonardo DiCaprio back, who hasn't officially been on the Croisette since his 2007 documentary "The 11th Hour." He plays Jay Gatsby, while Nick Carraway is played by Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan is Daisy Buchanan, whose husband is Joel Edgerton. Also on hand for the gala will be Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and rapper Jay-Z. So Cannes will have their swinging gala, along with their second 3-D opening nighter (the first was Pete Docter's "Up" in 2009).

Produced by Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, the film was adapted by Luhrmann and his co-screenwriter Graig Pearce from Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel.


  • rgm | March 12, 2013 3:36 PMReply

    Baz Luhrmann made the funny and charming "Strictly Ballroom' for only $3 million. For "Moulin Rouge," he was allowed some $52 million and, now, "Gatsby" is reported to be costing over $126 million. Draw your own conclusions.

  • Vincent Lesh | March 12, 2013 3:28 PMReply

    Actually i'm just criticizing the tedious lack of originality, as if the superficial window dressing and stylistic touches were something that were worth exhuming the corpse of at least one great film version, and re-animating it for attempted profit.

    Let alone the Studio skullduggery and complicity on Cannes' part in showcasing this creampuff of crap in what is supposed to be cinema's finest festival.

  • Vincent Lesh | March 12, 2013 11:14 AMReply

    Simply horrible news, sorry.

    Like when Kay says to Michael at the end of Godfather II something like, "It was an abortion... something unholy that I wouldn't bring into this world."

    Would that these people have spared us the same. Artifice = the appearance of Art... all surfaces and shine, no substance.

    But hey, its got Jay-Z scheduled to attend the party, plus its in 3D- that's got to be why they waited to premiere this sure to be great film at Cannes [their partners in crime and poor taste]- and not take the huge hit in prints and advertising when it was supposed to be released in December 2012, "For Your Consideration".

    Of which, and rightly so, there would probably be very little.

    Bring out your dead- for Hollywood is calling... we can eat your children for breakfast and regurgitate it for lunch, in another soulless remake, and puffed up Studio confection... all powdered sugar and sickly-sweet hot air.

  • Jordan | March 12, 2013 2:17 PM

    Judge a book by it's cover much Mr. Lesh? You haven't even seen it and you've already bashed it for superficiality - I think that might be the definition of irony. Added on to it the fact that "all surface and shine, no substance" is one of the themes of Gatsby and you've got yourself some really uneducated criticism.

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