Queen-size PR quandary

'Marie' opens in the U.S. in October

Despite the buzz that erupted on the Croisette last week over Sony’s “Marie Antoinette” — a rock ‘n’ roll interpretation of the French queen’s controversial reign — U.S. auds won’t be able to weigh in until October.

The film, directed by Sofia Coppola, bowed in Cannes and the rest of France on May 24, where it was released by Pathe, which felt strongly — as did Coppola — about taking advantage of the fest launch, considering the pic’s subject matter.

Pic, which stars Kirsten Dunst as the lead, is arty fare with a more mainstream pricetag ($40 million) and is being released by Sony’s main label, Columbia Pictures. “Marie Antoinette” inspired early interest and debate from the Gauls, though it received some French-accented boos (something like “Bheu!”) when it screened on the Croisette.

Sony now faces the challenge of turning the controversy into positive publicity for its U.S. launch. Sony execs were mum on how exactly they planned to do that, but emphasized that the pic will not be treated like a small art film. Sony must also deal with the inevitable piracy issues, considering the long lag until the film’s worldwide release.

As for the snippy French reactions, one exasperated Sony exec says: “Cannes is a vacuum. You hear boos here, but people around the world don’t know what you’re talking about. What you take away from Cannes is, you find out who likes a movie early, you get some publicity banked and you carry on.”

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