High ‘Times’ at Cannes

Fest opts to close with classic

PARIS — The Cannes Film Festival will close with a golden oldie: the newly restored version of Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 classic “Modern Times.”

The May 25 screening of Chaplin’s last silent movie breaks with the fest’s usual practice of closing with a new pic. Choice reps another coup for French film company MK2, which holds the rights to 17 Chaplin pics.

Last year, the Berlin Film Festival closed with “The Great Dictator.”

The Cannes choice ties in with fest artistic director Thierry Fremaux’s passion for silent movies.

Warner Home Video struck a deal with MK2 at Cannes last year to distribute remastered versions of Chaplin’s work on DVD.

Both companies are believed to be involved in next month’s closing-night festivities, but MK2 had no comment Tuesday.

While the oldie screening is a first for Cannes, Berlin has opted to close with a classic movie for three of its past five editions — Otto Preminger’s 1959 “Porgy and Bess” was shown in 1999 and Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” was screened in 2001.

Many film critics and industryites have already left town by closing night of Cannes, making the “graveyard” slot less than attractive to companies trying to promote a new movie.

Fest organizers, though, want the occasion to go off with a bang — something they have a reasonable chance of achieving with a well-loved classic.

Since acquiring all rights to the Chaplin family-owned catalog two years ago, MK2 has sparked a Chaplin revival in France, theatrically releasing “The Great Dictator” and bringing out a new DVD collection.

(Derek Elley in London contributed to this report.)

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