CANNES– The Cannes Film Festival is a dream factory, where filmmakers arrive with vivid fantasies about art (“Maybe I will be the next Fellini!”) or commerce (“Maybe I’ll rake in millions with this turkey!”).
Since 1994, Variety has been publishing the Cannes Show Dailies, 10 consecutive issues each year that chronicle the screenings, deals and hoopla during the fest.
But as we launch our 10th year here, it’s clear that dreams don’t always come true. We reported deals that were made with great excitement, fanfare and sincerity — and the rest was silence.
In our very first Cannes issue (which came out on Friday the 13th, in May 1994:: “After months of wrangling, Fine Line Features has nailed down its plan to produce back-to-back pix based on Tony Kushner’s ‘Angels in America.’ Robert Altman will direct and Cary Brokaw will produce the pix, which will be released some time in 1995.”
A few days later: “After a bidding war, Savoy Pictures beat out Morgan Creek and Columbia to buy Joe Eszterhas’ spec script ‘Foreplay,’ for $1 million against $3.5 million.” Sources described it as a rock ‘n’ roll murder mystery — and the world is the poorer that this film never came to pass.
You want sequels? We got sequels. Or rather, stillborn sequels: In May 1995, New Line announced “Freddy vs. Jason” (which, eight years later, is skedded to hit the screen in August). In 2000: “A $30 million sequel to ‘Easy Rider’ tops the slate from Miracle Entertainment and Martin Landau’s Silver Street Picture … Principal photography is slated to begin this fall.” Wha’ happened?
But the prize story was from one reporter who shall remain nameless. In 1997, he related that Mel Gibson was prepping to star in and direct the WB-based “Fahrenheit 451,” while he was simultaneously being wooed by Paramount to star in “Pathfinder” and by TriStar for Wolfgang Petersen’s Ernest Shackleton bio, “Endurance.” Three stillborn projects in one sentence! A personal best.
And the Croisette of Broken Dreams involves not just deals but entire life changes.
After making his feature directing debut with “August,” Anthony Hopkins announced in 1994 “that in the future ‘more than anything,’ he wants to spend his time directing.” So far, “August” is the only film he’s directed.
In 1997, Michael Huffington, after his failed bid to become a California senator, was reported as being “here at the Cannes Film Festival in his new career as a film producer.” He and his partner Pierre de Lespinois scheduled “Dolphin Dreams” to begin lensing that summer.
This is not to imply that you should doubt what you read in this paper. Mais non! Pas du tout! The vast majority of the deals that we reported came to fruition … though sometimes, execs may feel a twinge of regret over deals that did happen.
We noted that Columbia was acquiring international rights to “Rollerball,” Miramax won Roberto Benigni’s “Pinocchio,” and Polygram reported “excellent” sales on “Barb Wire” (the Pamela Anderson vehicle best remembered for its tagline “Don’t call me babe!”)
Deals come together (or fall apart) for a variety of reasons. So a retrospective of the Cannes Show Dailies serves not as a test of accuracy but as a time capsule.
In that first 1994 issue, we led with the fact that the Hollywood majors had a low profile in Cannes. So, in a story headlined “New names steal Cannes spotlight,” we reported that relative newcomers like Miramax and New Line were stepping up to the plate. (It’s startling to remember that once upon a time, those Cannes fixtures were once whippersnappers, but there you are.)
In May 1997, we reported that “Titanic” would not be ready for its July 2 release, but “Paramount is still holding out hope that the film will be delivered in time for a release on July 18, July 25 or Aug. 1.”
Ah, well, hopes were deferred, but it all had a happy ending.
And the Show Dailies chronicled each plot twist as Lions Gate brought “American Psycho” to the screen. First, Mary Harron was to direct with Christian Bale. Then on May 16, 1998, we reported that Lions Gate would pay Leonardo DiCaprio $21 million to play the lead. A few days later, Harron balked at the change in stars and the big increase in budget. The wrangling went on for a long time, but was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
But we’re still waiting for a resolution in the Fred Durst saga.
On May 13, 2001, the Show Daily reported that the Limp Bizkit singer would make his feature directorial debut in September with “Life Without Joe” (described as ” ‘Deliverance’ for the younger set”). A few days later, Catch 23 Entertainment said no, actually Durst will make his helming bow on a different pic to start in the fall, “Runt.”
A year later, producers Art Linson, David Fincher and John Linson said they were aware of the other two projects, but in actual fact, Durst would make his directing debut with “Lords of Dogtown,” about a subject that has preoccupied him since the late 1970s: skateboarding.
So far, Fred has yet to make his directing debut.
Sometimes, dreams do come true. You just have to wait awhile.