StudioCanal pulls Lynch pic from film fest

SITGES, Spain — StudioCanal has yanked David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” from the Sitges Film Festival of Catalonia, which opened Friday.

StudioCanal’s fear, said Sitges director Angel Sala, is that the three-hour cut of “Empire,” which unspooled to so-so reactions at the Venice fest in September, would play so well among Lynch die-hards at Sitges that the helmer would never be persuaded to slim it down for commercial release.

Gallic studio is the co-producer and international sales agent of “Inland Empire.” Lynch is due to receive a “Blue Velvet” 20th anni tribute at Sitges, Europe’s biggest fantasy film sprocket opera. But, though a fest habitue, he will not attend this year.

Sitges’ first day belonged to one of the biggest genre auteurs of them all: Guillermo del Toro.

His “Pan’s Labyrinth” drew applause at the Friday morning press screening. Del Toro is highly respected in Spain, in part for being able to alternate studio pics with more personal projects such as “Labyrinth.”

His next project will be Universal’s “Hellboy 2,” skedded to roll in Budapest and London in April/May.

“It will be a marvelous paradox,” he said. “It will be infinitely bigger than the first part, but basically have the same budget.”

Sitges boasts its biggest roster of world preems in recent years, plus a healthy lineup in name directors in attendance.

Leading world bows is Roland Joffe’s “Captivity.” There’s little buzz on the film, since it hasn’t even been seen by the festival. Douglas Buck’s “Sisters,” a remake of the Brian de Palma pic, also unspools for the first time at Sitges, as do Wes Bentley starrer “The Ungodly,” Elio Quiroga’s f/x-laden “La hora fria” and Luna’s “Moscow Zero,” a late addition.

Paul Verhoeven, who presents “Black Book,” will receive a career achievement prize.

Two Alejandros — Amenabar and Jodorosky — plus Kiyochi Kurosawa and special effect makeup artist Howard Berger will be on hand for Time Machine awards.

Terry Gilliam will present “Tideland,” Darren Aronofsky will join “The Fountain,” Joe Dante comes with “Homecoming” and Brad Anderson accompanies “Sounds Like.”

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