Cannes set to ditch austerity with 'Great Gatsby' launch

Tue May 14, 2013 7:06pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival may get some of its swagger back on Wednesday when it opens with Baz Luhrmann's lavish 3D period drama "The Great Gatsby", an opportunity to shed the caution of recent years overshadowed by broader economic gloom.

Leonardo DiCaprio and his British co-star Carey Mulligan will walk the red carpet on the French Riviera to promote the $105 million adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel which has already opened in North America.

Over 12 days of world premieres, champagne parties and sun- and celebrity worship, Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling, Emma Watson and Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan are among the big names in town promoting their latest pictures.

Festival veterans are eager to see if Luhrmann can top his opening in 2001, viewed as the last truly extravagant launch on the palm-lined Croisette waterfront, when he filled the red carpet with can-can girls to promote his movie "Moulin Rouge".

"For a few years the mood at Cannes was a bit more subdued but the economy has picked up a bit and business is good so people are expecting a big opening," said Wendy Mitchell, editor of trade magazine Screen International.

"The Great Gatsby" was seen as a surprise choice for Cannes, given that the prestigious opening slot is traditionally reserved for a world premiere and all the media buzz and excitement that can bring.

But "The Great Gatsby" has already screened to mixed reviews in North America, where it opened to a larger-than-expected $51 million at the box office for distributor Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc..

Some industry insiders said the concession was indicative of increasingly cosy ties between Tinseltown and the French festival that champions eclectic, low-budget movies as well as big-budget blockbusters produced on the U.S. west coast.   Continued...

Posters for the film 'The Great Gatsby' showing actor Leonardo DiCaprio (C) and actress Carey Mulligan (R) are displayed outside the Carlton Hotel before the start of the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 13, 2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau