U, Canal Plus execs share sub sandwich

New partners hang, De Laurentiis feted at 'U-571' screening

DEAUVILLE — A contingent of Universal senior execs was on hand at the American Film Festival here Tuesday to join their new Gallic owners in celebrating the screening of “U-571,” a co-production between Universal and Canal Plus’ film and distribution arm StudioCanal.

The film’s financing was in place long before the Vivendi-Universal deal transpired.

The gala paid tribute to the film’s producer, Dino De Laurentiis, whose 200-some producing credits range from “La Strada” to the forthcoming “Hannibal.”

Gallic producer Alain Terzian introduced De Laurentiis, whom he called “the last tycoon,” pointing out that the man whose name is synonymous with super-productions of global fame “showed that a European can succeed in America.” Calling Martha, his wife and producing partner of 10 years, to his side, the dapper octogenarian addressed the crowd in charming broken English: “I left Europe 30 years ago,” De Laurentiis said, “with no good English. And still, no good English.”

Language shouldn’t prove too much of an obstacle for the Vivendi-Universal crowd. Deauville offers an occasion for both sides to get to know each other better in the relaxed atmosphere of what’s hailed as one of the most casual yet quietly productive fests around. Pierre Lescure and Ron Meyer, as well as key members of their respective staffs, are set to mingle with the press over lunch later this week.

After the submarine drama unspooled for a capacity crowd, selected festgoers repaired to a latenight party.

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