Cannes: Woody Allen’s ‘Cafe Society’ to Open Film Festival

Woody Allen Cannes
David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Woody Allen becomes the first and only director to have three opening night films selected for Cannes.

Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society,” starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, has been selected to open the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival. The film will make its world premiere in an out-of-competition slot on May 11, in advance of its release later this year through Amazon Studios, which acquired North American rights to the picture in February.

Allen remains one of the most celebrated American directors in France, and Cannes’ selection no doubt owes to the influence of Stephane Celerier’s Mars Distribution, which has handled the Gallic release of Allen’s recent output, dating the film’s French release for May 11. (Allen’s previous feature, “Irrational Man,” grossed $6.3 million in France — by far the pic’s strongest international box office performance.)

Little is known about Allen’s 46th feature as a director — and his 14th to screen out of competition at Cannes — except that in addition to the romantic reteaming of “American Ultra” leads Stewart and Eisenberg, the cast includes Steve Carell, Parker Posey, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Jeannie Berlin and Ken Stott.

Shot in Los Angeles and New York, the film is produced by Allen’s longtime collaborators Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson. According to the festival, “The film tells the story of a young man who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry, falls in love, and finds himself swept up in the vibrant cafe society that defined the spirit of the age.”

Allen is no stranger to kicking off the world’s most prestigious international film event, having previously done the honors with “Hollywood Ending” (2002) and “Midnight in Paris” (2011), which remains one of Cannes’ best-received curtain-raisers in recent years. This latest selection makes him the first and only director to present three opening-night films at Cannes — four, if you count the 1989 opener, “New York Stories,” a feature-length trilogy of films directed by Allen, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

(Several filmmakers have scored two Cannes opening-night slots in the past: William Wyler with “Ben-Hur” and “The Collector”; Ridley Scott with “The Duellists” and “Robin Hood”; Luc Besson with “The Big Blue” and “The Fifth Element”; and Baz Luhrmann with “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby.” Scorsese, too, if you count both “New York Stories” and “The King of Comedy.”)

After last year’s edition kicked off with French helmer Emmanuelle Bercot’s troubled-youth drama “Standing Tall,” the Allen film will ensure a return to the sort of splashy, star-packed Hollywood fare that Cannes has typically opened with (“Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Great Gatsby”).

The 69th Cannes Film Festival runs May 11-22, and the full official selection will be announced mid-April. As previously reported, Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG” and Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster,” starring George Clooney, Jack O’Connell and Julia Roberts, will screen at the festival.

(Peter Debruge contributed to this report.)

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  1. snowyphile says:

    Another torturous chip off Woody’s block.

  2. Simon says:

    How does she still have a career? I can feel the pretentiousness through the screen.

    Kristen Stewart AND Jesse Eisenberg again? I will take waterboarding. They are so thirsty for awards, it’s kind of sad.

    The majority of Woody’s films are ignored by the general public and critics alike, but sometimes they randomly catch on, so basically these self-deluded jokers, Stewart and Eisenberg, think they have a shot at getting an Oscar nomination. She thinks she’s on the path, but she isn’t. All those critics awards last year didn’t get her anywhere because she’s simply not well-liked by her peers, and they’re the ones who do the nominating.

  3. Addie says:

    Such a shame this guy can still get his movies to major film festivals.
    It’ll most likely get a week at most in limited theatres in the USA
    Jesse eisenberg is insufferable as an actor and person. Surprised Kristen Stewart was cast. Woody normally likes actresses with more than 1 facial expression.
    But all said and done – Woody – UGH
    Will never watch another thing he does

  4. Amy says:

    Eager to see this one

  5. I realize Woody Allen’s films are not big-budget undertakings and tend to make modest profits under the worst of circumstances but how in the world did the money people give the Go to a film with those two leads?

    • Lauren says:

      Word is that this ran over budget and cost $30 million, much more than Woody’s usual low budget fare.

      Then Amazon paid something like $15 million, so it will be difficult for this film to show a profit unless it is a huge hit, and his movies usually aren’t. That period piece with Colin Firth, Magic in the Moonlight was a big flop, and this film looks like that one. Cannes seems particularly boring this year.

  6. Roy Atkinson says:

    The production shots leave me with hope that this will have more appeal than “Irrational Man.” In an interview with CineAlta magazine, cinematographer Storraro says it is about a Jewish family in New York. One member goes to Los Angeles to be a film agent. The story goes back and forth between NYC and Hollywood in 1935 to 1940.

  7. Mia says:

    Another possible title for this article: “One of America’s most beloved rapists, Woody Allen, becomes the first and only director to have three opening night films selected for Cannes.”

  8. Tiffany says:

    I can’t think of two people I’d like to see LESS in a movie then Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. They are both just pretentious and completely insufferable. Can you imagine the self important conversations between these two? 🙄😂

    I’ll pass. Not to mention Woody Allen is a perv. No desire to see anything he creates.

    • Francis says:

      I agree. Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg have both had to apologize for stupid things they’ve said while promoting their films, and neither one can bring in the box office on their own. Even the much-touted Adventureland didn’t show a profit, and neither did Clouds of Sils Maria.

      Their American Ultra was a huge flop. Stewart wasn’t Woody’s first choice, he wasn’t even aware of her. His casting director showed him her work with Jesse in Adventureland and that led to her casting, which kind of makes it seem like he isn’t very choosy about casting actresses.

      I only hope she brings her new girlfriend, the French singer, SoKo, to Cannes with her. I would love to see their antics documented on SoKothecat’s Instagram, they’ve been very entertaining so far it would enliven an otherwise dull-looking Cannes.

      • @"Francis"/"Lauren" says:

        There, there, Truthy, it’ll be ok! I know you’ve had a rough few years as your predictions of Stewart’s imminent career demise has yet to happen. Best to just ignore Cannes. :(

  9. Ariadne says:

    Congratulations goes to the entire team of Woody Allen’s film. I hope it’ll receive the critical acclamation it deserves. Hopefully Kristen’s other film, Personal Shopper by Olivier Assayas will get in too. Fingers crossed.

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