Taking aim at Cannes

Bart, Guber 'Shoot' questions at HBO, New Line toppers

AMC’s “Sunday Morning Shoot-Out” focused its guns on the business of Cannes during interviews with several movers-and-shakers on the Croisette Sunday.

Fresh from unfurling their new joint distrib banner Picturehouse, HBO and New Line toppers stopped in to chat with “Shoot-Out” hosts Peter Bart and Peter Guber about why they’ve decided to join forces and hire indie vet Bob Berney to run the thing.

Bart got right to the point: “Are there enough interesting movies out there to justify yet another U.S. distribution banner?”

HBO Films topper Colin Callender argued that audiences, including practically everyone he ever had dinner with, were “hungry” for more interesting fare, more adult product and often felt unserved by what was currently available onscreen.

The increasing number of successful distributors, New Line’s Michael Lynne added, actually stimulates the making of more interesting movies.

Following Callender, Lynne, HBO CEO Chris Albrecht and PH topper Berney to the hotseat were the principals of Midnight Screener “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.”

Pic’s stars Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr., attired to look like they were born to the Croisette, mixed it up with Bart and Guber.

When asked how important it was to do the promotional tour for a movie, Kilmer said that he “always had a ball at Cannes” and that, in any case, it was no longer about being politely asked to go. It is in fact in a lot of actors’ contracts that they have to do this or that to support a movie.

Nonetheless, Kilmer almost slept through his call for the big screening of his movie, and had to be awakened by his co-star breaking into his room through a balcony window.

Guber and Bart pointed out how invigorating it must be to get a standing ovation when you walk into a screening before the movie even plays.

Downey said being in Cannes with a movie can be risky, “if it tanks,” but that in this case “we were confident” that the Cannes audience would appreciate its “hard to categorize” tone.

Director Shane Black focused on his often turbulent relationship with producer Joel Silver. Acknowledging to Bart and Guber that he’d actually been fired by Silver 10 years ago for wanting to kill off Mel Gibson in “Lethal Weapon 2,” Black expressed gratitude to the producer for giving him his first directorial shot with “Kiss, Kiss.”

Bart is the editor in chief of Variety.

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