Cannes fest gets a jolt of Hollywood-style glitz

'Matrix' well received at Palais, met with standing ovation

Rivulets of green and gold sparks rained down on the flotilla of yachts moored in the Cannes harbor as “The Matrix: Reloaded” unspooled on the film fest’s second night in a thunderous display of Hollywood firepower.

Earlier on Thursday, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and other cast members sauntered up the red carpeted steps of the Palais, as swarms of spectators cheered from the street.

The futuristic blockbuster and the exclusive, high-concept after-party, capped by a resounding 15-minute fireworks display, marked a sharp contrast from the lighthearted period romance of “Fanfan La Tulipe,” and the high formality of fest’s opening night gala.

The change of pace was well received at the Palais, where the film met with a sustained standing ovation.

In a giant, barn-shaped tent at the tip of the Quai Laubeuf, Warner Bros. execs, including CEO Barry Meyer; producer Joel Silver and the cast; along with guests including Kevin Costner, Pierre Lescure and Cannes jurors Patrice Chereau and Steven Soderbergh celebrated the pic’s out-of-competition screening and its international roll-out.

Stateside, pic was in its first full day of release on Thursday. But Silver, who has been ensconced with most of the cast at the Hotel Du Cap, told Variety he had not called L.A. to check the grosses.

“Alan Horn and everyone else at the studio worked really hard on it,” he said of the franchise. “I want it to be a success for everyone.” (For the record, the pic was chalking up unprecedented numbers in its U.S. launch.)

At the Quai, a vast black carpet, illuminated by candles, stretched from the street to the mouth of the tent. Inside, the walls were bedecked with “Matrix” iconography — giant black screens with vertical streams of green characters and computer squiggles, and black tables adorned with dyed green roses and bamboo. The fashionable throngs spent as much time examining each other as making cocktail chatter, to a soundtrack of throbbing dance music.

Screening was one of several stops in an aggressive international release campaign for the franchise. But the cast didn’t yet appear at all enervated by the junket.

“I’m an actor, not a salesman,” Hugo Weaving told Variety. “But it’s a wonderful opportunity to travel the world and see everyone again.”

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