I saw it coming. Ever since Paramount announced that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would not screen for anyone before its May 18 unveiling at Cannes (in advance of its worldwide launch May 22), I felt that Spielberg and Co. might be setting themselves up. The anticipation of this film is too great, the pressure for information is wrecking havoc on the internet. As the NYT reports, several exhibitor screenings have added to the din surrounding this film. So far the PR strategy has been to dole out interviews to press who have not yet seen it; Vanity Fair, EW, the LAT and others have played ball.
And at Cannes, select press are being invited to do interviews before the official press screening at 1 PM on May 18. This will add more pressure to the press conference that day. UPDATE: Paramount is also not throwing a party, instead sticking to a small exclusive film dinner. That's not winning them any popularity contests.
Sony learned the hard way the power of a roomful of 4000 critics waiting to find a movie wanting at Cannes with the Da Vinci Code. Moviegoers ignored their complaints and made the film a worldwide blockbuster. But the filmmakers had hoped to score a prestige win at Cannes. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer left Cannes with their egos badly bruised.
Spielberg, who is staying in one of the big yachts in the harbor, may be hoping to return to the site of his early career triumphs with Sugarland Express and E.T., which was such a huge smash at Cannes that it burnished Spielberg's profile as a star director with a special place in filmgoers' hearts. Indiana Jones is a favorite franchise returning after 18 years. It may fulfill all that is hoped for; it will certainly score a huge global opening. That's not the issue. It will be fascinating to see if Cannes gives back to Spielberg what he may be hoping to get from it.
If the audience skews older, as I suspect it will, I wonder if Paramount might not have lured more of the key younger demo by waiting to open the film after they get out of school. It's early summer days yet.