Soderbergh to screen out of competition

PARIS — Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Thirteen” will make its international bow at Cannes, screening out of competition.

As ever, Cannes is keeping tight-lipped about its program for the 60th annual event, ahead of its official lineup announcement April 19.

The studio and fest have yet to determine a date for the gala screening, with hopes that as many of the pic’s lead actors — George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, et al — can attend.

“Thirteen” offers the latest evidence that the Hollywood-Cannes romance is in full bloom.

The fest benefits from the presence of Hollywood stars, while the major studios get a high-profile international bow for their pics. That’s become increasingly important as the studios are opening more and more tentpoles with day-and-date summer bows.

However, Sony’s launch of “The Da Vinci Code” last year pointed up the perils that Hollywood faces on the Croisette. The pic was resoundingly panned by jet-lagged critics, while other journalists took the opportunity to blast the company’s keep-it-under-wraps strategy and its expensive and chaotic post-preem party.

The pic proved critic-proof, grossing $758 million worldwide. But other films in recent years — as diverse as “Marie Antoinette,” “Hollywood Ending” and “The Ladykillers” — didn’t seem to benefit from the high profile.

However, some big Hollywood titles, like “Shrek 2″ and “X-Men 3″ have been buoyed by Cannes bows.

“Thirteen” reps WB’s third out-of-competition presence in Cannes in recent years, following “Troy” in 2004 and “The Matrix Reloaded” in 2003.

The only official acknowledgement so far is fest prexy Gilles Jacob’s mention of the May 20 screening of “Chacun son cinema,” a feature consisting of three-minute shorts by 35 world-ranking directors to mark the fest’s 60th anniversary.

Aside from “Thirteen’s” star power, director Soderbergh — winner of the Palme d’Or in 1989 for his first film “Sex, lies and videotape” — epitomizes the kind of high-profile international auteur that Cannes likes to showcase.

The helmer went to the Croisette with two other films, “King of the Hill” in competition in 1993 and “The Limey,” which screened out of competition in 1999. He was also on the fest’s jury in 2003.

Stephen Frears presides over the competition jury this year for the festival, which runs May 16-27.

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