The longstanding love affair between Hollywood and the Cannes Film Festival is sure to endure this year, with two studio pics using out-of-competition slots to launch worldwide promotional campaigns.
Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” from Universal and Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” from Fox will seek to maximize the buzz of the world’s media gathered on the Croisette.
In recent years, usually only one big studio title has played out-of-competition. Last year it was Disney/Pixar toon “Up;” the year before that, Paramount’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
In part, that’s because the cost of full promotional effort on the Riviera continues to increase. But if the opportunity is right, studios still jump at the chance, particularly because of the increasing importance of the foreign box office.
With international media gathered from around the world, Cannes is arguably the world’s largest press junket.
Over the decades, Cannes festival organizers have given commercial studio pics out-of-competition slots as a way ensuring the red carpet leading up to the Palais has plenty of star power.
“Robin Hood” and Stone’s “Wall Street” sequel have plenty of wattage. “Robin Hood” reunites Scott and Russell Crowe, while “Wall Street” reteams Stone with Michael Douglas, who stars opposite Shia LaBeouf.
The titles playing in competition, whether studio pics or indie films, go to Cannes for a different reason. They are there to build critical support, such as Doug Liman’s Sean Penn-Valerie Plame starrer “Fair Game,” which doesn’t yet have a distrib.
“Robin Hood” would seem the ideal studio pic to play out-of-competition at Cannes, since it begins opening around the world within 48 hours of its debut at the fest.
“If you’re opening your film right after the fest, you can get a lot of great press. You don’t have to go to all those territories,” one studio publicist said. “Also, the international exhibitors are there.”
The last time Fox proper was at Cannes was with Brett Ratner’s “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Film, opening in theaters day and date around the world on May 26, 2006, grossed $225 million internationally, the best of any title in the franchise. It grossed $234.4 million domestically.
The wide exposure for films screening in Cannes can even outweigh bad notices.
Sony’s “The Da Vinci Code” drew withering reviews when it premiered at the fest as the opening night film. But it went on to gross a massive $540.7 million internationally after opening in theaters on May 19, 2006. It grossed $217.5 million domestically.
Stone’s “Wall Street” sequel could be more challenging to market internationally.
When Fox learned last month that the film would likely be accepted at the fest, it pushed back “Wall Street’s” release from April 23 to Sept. 24.
That means Fox’s publicity mavens will have to keep up the momentum that begins with Cannes. However difficult, it can be done, as evidenced by titles like Paramount Vantage’s “Babel.” It made its world preem at the fest, but didn’t open in theaters until late October.
As part of their Cannes publicity assault, many of the studios will continue to plaster hotels on the Croisette with billboards for upcoming films.
This year, onlookers will likely see promos for Paramount’s “The Last Airbender,” from M. Night Shyamalan, and several Sony titles, including “The Karate Kid” and “Eat Pray Love.” Warners is likely to have signage for titles including Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.”