Credit crunch dulls glitz of Cannes festival

Sun May 10, 2009 6:07am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The stars will still turn up and the movie line-up looks good but the tone of the Cannes film festival will be more black and white than technicolor in 2009.

The credit crunch means Hollywood studios are tightening their belts and conspicuous consumption is temporarily out of fashion. Deal-making will go on but is likely to be more circumspect.

"You can feel people are more conservative, more selective," said Helen Lee Kim, president of Mandate International. "They are being more careful and not taking those big jumps as they might have last year."

The annual celebration of cinema in the south of France, famed for its wild beach parties, giant yachts and red carpets, opens on Wednesday with the premiere of "Up," an animated comedy from Disney that underlines the growing importance of 3D.

Then it is down to the serious business of the competition comprising 20 films by an impressive array of directors -- Jane Campion, Ang Lee, Ken Loach, Lars Von Trier, Michael Haneke, Pedro Almodovar and Quentin Tarantino.

Each day, two competition films are screened to critics and journalists before their red carpet premieres in the Grand Theater Lumiere, while directors and stars juggle interview schedules and photo calls with late-night partying.

Hundreds more movies are shown outside the main competition, many of them on the bustling market which is a less visible, yet vital part of Cannes' status as the world's top film festival.

On the plus side, Hollywood studios are enjoying a bumper box office in 2009 despite the global recession, and the dollar's relative strength will boost purchasing power.   Continued...

<p>The Festival de Cannes organization unveils the official poster of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in Paris April 23, 2009. REUTERS/Cannes Film Festival/HO/Societe Cinematographique Lyre/Cino del Duca/AFFIF</p>