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Thompson on Hollywood

Cannes Day Three: Bright Star, Taking Woodstock

The new Bob Berney/Bill Pohlad combine scored quite a coup by pre-buying, sight unseen, off a set visit and a script, the new Jane Campion film Bright Star, which screened well Friday morning for the press corps. I caught Berney and Pohlad on the Croisette Friday, beaming over the favorable early reaction. They're opening the film on September 18. "Toronto will be the launch of the campaign," said Berney. Awards season is in their sights, but the prime target audience will be teenage girls, says Berney. Pohlad and Berney still haven't cleared the name of their company, which was hard to choose. "We have to live with it for a while," says Berney, who saw Bright Star two weeks ago.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 15, 2009 9:45 AM
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Cannes Day Two: Fassbender Pops, Gallo doesn't

What a difference casting makes. Thursday's competition film from Andrea Arnold, her second feature Fish Tank, features a break-out performance from Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who made a mark as a starving IRA prisoner in Hunger, and who also stars in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. Often shirtless in Fish Tank, Fassbender had women buzzing after the picture. The movie played well for critics but will likely be a hurry-up-and-wait buy for an IFC, Magnolia or Sony Classics.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 14, 2009 9:50 AM
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Sony Hearts Chanel and Auteurs Haneke, Almodovar

At a time when other distribs are treading cautiously, steady Cannes buyer Sony Pictures Classics bets on their own taste and gut instinct for what they can achieve in the marketplace. They don't always wait to see how a film will play at a festival, and try not to overpay (although they get clipped every now and then). They're still betting on theatrical releases like the James Toback doc Tyson, which they bought out of Cannes last year, and the Israeli animated Oscar-contender Waltz with Bashir. "We're thinking long-term," says co-president Michael Barker, who came into Cannes with Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces, which is set for a pre-Thanksgiving November release. "It's the fifth one we committed to at the script stage. There are fewer quality films, so it's in our interest to get involved early. It's harder to find films at these festivals than it used to be."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 13, 2009 4:23 AM
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Cannes Day One: Up Up and Away

Cannes master promoter Thierry Fremaux knows what he is doing: the photo taken from the Debussy stage of the Cannes press corps wearing 3-D glasses will be seen everywhere. (They had to be returned.) I started out the morning in tears during Up , which as Disney chairman Dick Cook puts it, is Pixar's "most emotional film." Co-writers Bob Peterson and Pete Docter took the idea of an old guy who travels in a house carried aloft by balloons to find a lost South American paradise, and worked it over for a good two years before it passed enough muster to go into voice casting and animation.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 13, 2009 4:19 AM
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Cannes: The Night Before

One tried-and-true Cannes ritual is the Tuesday night dinner at La Pizza. With many travelers admonished by their bosses to watch their expenses this year, La Pizza is a relatively inexpensive option. Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells rounded up a gaggle of writers, some print (like The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday) and online (MSN and AMC's James Rocchi) as well as IndieWire stalwarts Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks. Julian Sancton will be blogging Cannes for the first time for VanityFair.com. Lionsgate, Fox Searchlight and Jere Hausfater were in the house, as well as the Alamo Drafthouse's Tim League.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 12, 2009 4:28 AM
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Cannes Gets Started with Up, Fish Tank

I've packed too much, as usual, for my ten-day sojourn in Europe. (No paying for bags on international flights.) I fly overnight to London arriving Monday, hang with some friends on jet-lag night (I packed my Tylenol PM) and head for Nice Tuesday morning.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 10, 2009 4:32 AM
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Cannes Schedule Could Hurt Gilliam's Ledger Movie Parnassus

Cannes has posted the screening schedule (it's on the jump). Unfortunately for Terry Gilliam, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus doesn't screen until Friday the 22nd. Most buyers will be burned out and gone by Thursday. Will the sellers arrange an early buyer's screening like the one last year for Synecdoche, New York? It's better to have the positive power of the press behind you with a risky challenge of a movie, methinks. Isn't that what festivals are for?
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 7, 2009 5:40 AM
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Cannes Preview

The Cannes buzz is building: Newsweek International hypes My Neighbor My Killer, a film about the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • May 2, 2009 6:19 AM
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Cannes Watch: Rocky Indie Terrain

There's considerable uncertainty heading toward Cannes this year. While the global theatrical market is strong, the indie sector is still fragile--and shrinking. With DVDs sinking and piracy on the rise, financeers and foreign sales agents don't know what's safe anymore. Many companies had coasted on funds they had already raised, but now reality is sinking in: new money is hard to find.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 30, 2009 6:28 AM
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Summit Selling Twilight Star Pattinson Movie At Cannes

While the Rob Pattinson movies that are set to be released post-Twilight--Little Ashes and How to Be--are unlikely to reignite his passionate Twilight fan base, it's not surprising that Summit Entertainment would squeeze their new matinee idol into another romantic movie between Twilight installments that they could sell in Cannes.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 24, 2009 8:00 AM
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