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Baz back to familiar turf in Cannes

'Great Gatsby' to open fest May 15

In some ways, it’s not surprising that Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” will be the May 15 opener of the 66th Cannes Film Festival.

The filmmaker became known around the world when his 1992 “Strictly Ballroom” was a hit at Cannes. And his “Moulin Rouge” opened the festival in 2001, marking a new era of big-studio presence there. (Hollywood execs for years had feared the big expenses and the big gamble of opening a film in front of worldwide press.) Fox’s risky move paid off, as “Rouge” was well received, so other Hollywood pics have gotten on board (though not all of them have done so well).

However, in other ways, the festival choice is an eyebrow-raiser. “Gatsby” is scheduled for a May 10 launch in the U.S., and Cannes likes its films, especially in a key slot like opening night, to be world premieres. “Gatsby” will play out of competition in the official selection.

A few years ago, “Tree of Life” was scheduled to open in some overseas territories before its Cannes launch, but the timing raised so much global tsuris its commercial launch was delayed.

And back in 2000, in the pre-Cannes-Hollywood lovefest started by “Rouge,” the Brian De Palma-helmed “Mission to Mars” played in Cannes a full two months after its U.S. debut.

Despite the question of opening dates, Cannes has become a global press junket, and the international press should lap up the cast and crew of Warner Bros.’ “Gatsby.” The latest adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke.

“Gatsby” was originally scheduled for release Dec. 25, but the studio decided to avoid going head to head with another DiCaprio starrer, “Django Unchained.”

“Gatsby” will be just the second film to screen in 3D at the festival after “Up” in 2009. It opens in France the day the festival starts.

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