Slow going as fest opens

CANNES — A stiff mistral was not the only chilly wind blowing across the Croisette: Distribs who were told in March at the American Film Market to “wait until Cannes” to buy big movies for their territories may have to wait until Venice — or longer.

“No surprises. But it’s just getting started,” one Cannes buyer said hopefully Wednesday.

Among the few large projects available at Cannes is Polygram’s $60 million to $70 million “What Dreams May Come,” starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr. But the prices being asked per territory are said to be causing nightmares: $2.5 million for Brazil, $3 million for Taiwan. Polygram could not be reached for comment.

Williams and Gooding are due in Cannes, along with Interscope topper Ted Field, to tubthump for the film.

Summit Entertainment is unveiling helmer Mike Figgis’ next film, “Death and the Loss of Sexual Innocence.”

No cast has been set for the semi-autobiographical film, which will be shot on an under-$10 million budget like Figgis’ “Leaving Las Vegas” (and also on Super 16mm).

Summit describes the pic as “a lyrical exploration of passion and human identity,” weaving the figures of Adam and Eve with vignettes of a young man’s coming of age. Figgis will lense the pic in Italy, Africa, Morocco and England.

Summit also is selling Constantin’s “One Just Man,” starring Alec Baldwin. The drama brings together helmer Uli Edel and producer Bernd Eichinger for a third time after “Christiane F” and “Last Exit to Brooklyn.” The script, by David Black, poses Baldwin as an attorney caught in a moral dilemma as he defends an Orthodox Jewish man on trial for the murder of the men he holds responsible for his son’s death.

While there are no sales going on yet, Spelling Intl. and MDP Worldwide are positioned, along with Seven Arts topper Peter Hoffman, to handle international on “Toddlers,” the big-budget Zucker brothers project at Paramount that has Eddie Murphy lined up to star.

“Toddlers” is still a go picture at Par, sources close to the studio told Daily Variety, despite that Murphy has opted instead to next star in “Holy Man” for Steven Herek at Disney and has two pictures to do at Universal.

Sources in Cannes and in Hollywood said an offer has gone out to Jim Carrey, although the studio is willing to push back the picture to accommodate Murphy in a later slot.

MDP and Par declined comment.

Miramax Dimension is attracting buyers with its “Scream 2,” as well as its other fright film, “The Faculty.”

One bigger-budgeted AFM announcement that has become reality for Cannes buyers is the Christopher Lambert actioner “Beowulf” — Kushner-Locke’s co-venture with Larry Kasanoff’s Threshhold Entertainment, under its sales arrangement with Capitol Films.

“Spice Girls: The Movie,” being sold outside the Polygram territories by Icon, is being boosted by the live appearance of the “girl power” singing group Friday on the beach.

Cloud 9’s Terry Gilliam picture, “The Defective Detective,” also is being talked up by buyers on the Croisette.

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