Luhrmann paints the opening ‘Rouge’

Cancan dancers help kick off the 54th fest

CANNES — Festgoers were singing in the Baz tub Wednesday night as “Moulin Rouge” kicked off the 54th fest with high kicks, hoopla and ooh-la-la.

Cancan dancers lined the steps of the Palais here, greeting the film’s helmer Baz Luhrmann, stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor and a slew of execs — including Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch — from News Corp. and 20th Century Fox, which is distribbing the film.

The evening had a full sked: Opening remarks, a black-tie 8 p.m. screening and a festival-sponsored dinner, followed by an elaborate Fox party, reflecting the look of the film, on the Pantiero, a stretch near the Old Port behind the Palais.

The film, which is also in competition, was a good choice to set the global tone of the fest: It’s from an American major, with a star and director from Down Under, a male lead from Scotland, music from an international array of pop stars — and, crucially, a French setting.

The Belle Epoque musical also provided the opportunity for a lot more fun than past openers such as France’s “Vatel” or Russia’s “The Barber of Siberia.”

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