Economic woes weigh as Cannes film festival opens

Tue May 12, 2009 4:49am EDT
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By Michael Davidson

CANNES, France (Reuters) - The Cannes film festival opens on Wednesday with 3D animation comedy "Up," but with studios cutting back due to the recession the "feel good" factor at the famously extravagant cinema showcase may quickly fade.

Vanity Fair's exclusive party has been canceled, luxury yachts moored at the picturesque harbor remain unchartered and movie executives are sounding a note of caution on the eve of the world's biggest film festival.

"Like every business now, we really have to be very careful," said Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics. "Everyone has concerns," he added, before noting that deals would still be made.

The opening ceremony, underlining 3D's growing importance, kicks off 12 days of screenings, interviews, red carpets and late-night revelry in the palm-lined resort, which attracts many of the most glamorous and powerful figures in the business.

Brad Pitt is expected in Cannes with Quentin Tarantino's World War Two drama "Inglourious Basterds," one of 20 films showing in the main competition and vying for the coveted Palme d'Or for best picture when Cannes winds up on May 24.

The competition also includes by Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces" starring Penelope Cruz, Ken Loach's "Looking for Eric" featuring former French soccer star Eric Cantona and Lars von Trier's horror "Antichrist."

Jane Campion, who won the Palme d'Or with "The Piano" in 1993, brings "Bright Star" based on the romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne.

LEDGER'S FINAL ROLE   Continued...

<p>Workers make final preparations inside the Festival Palace in Cannes May 11, 2009. The 62nd Cannes Film Festival runs from May 13-24. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>