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Rise of PR ‘Machines’

Schwarzenegger, giant robots promo 'T3' with Cannes flair

The “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” publicity machine is in high gear here, with a party Friday on the Perfect Persuasion yacht, another one Saturday night at Le Palais Bulles in the hills. And on Saturday afternoon, Sony Intl. held what one exec called “a good, old-fashioned publicity stunt” that was part Universal Tours and part photo op, but added up to something that was totally Cannes.

On a set so extensive it looked like the Carlton has permanently added a patio with aluminum siding, the company staged an appearance by star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A phalanx of security men in dark suits alternately yawned or massaged their temples while loudspeakers blasted out boom-boom-boom music from the film. After 15 minutes — yes, 15 minutes — a pair of 10-foot metal robots emerged and pointed their artillery “hands” at the crowd. Suddenly, mist arose from the stage, the gates parted and the star appeared, shouting “Hello, everybody!” which drew whoops from the hundreds of fans.

Schwarzenegger managed to mention the complete title of the film at least five times during his 10-minute stint and he thanked producers Andy Vajna, Mario Kassar and Sony “for this gigantic promotion,” confiding that Cannes “is the best place to promote a movie.” He urged everyone to spread the word that the film has “a fantastic story, it has the best visual effects you have ever seen in your life,” and great stunts.

After posing for the photographers, he left with the promise “I’ll be back!” and the giant robots started bobbing their heads and waving their “arms” in time to reggae-pop music.

Meanwhile, hanging on the front of the Carlton are giant posters featuring characters from “The Matrix Reloaded,” who appeared to be glaring down at the whole thing.

One night earlier at the yacht party, Vajna extolled his star’s enthusiasm for promoting the pic, which is expected to include a full world tour when it’s released in July. “He loves the character,” Vajna said, “and the reaction has been tremendous.”

Also traversing the 150-foot boat were Kassar; the pic’s director Jonathan Mostow; “T3” producer Hal Lieberman, Intermedia chair Moritz Borman, vice chair John Gumpert and prexy of worldwide production Basil Iwanyk; the pic’s Kristanna Loken, Nick Stahl and Claire Danes; and Sony Pictures vice chair Jeff Blake and prexy of worldwide marketing Geoffrey Ammer.

Schwarzenegger, whose past Cannes’ adventures includes a junket for “T2” and a share in a now-defunct Planet Hollywood franchise near the beach, said traveling to Cannes gave him “tremendous joy. You have a built in audience. The media exposure is great.”

Yacht was chartered by Budweiser, which has struck a product-placement deal for the tentpole.

Boat’s three levels were festooned with plates of exotic food, coolers packed with bottles of Bud, and various “T3” marketing materials, including a nearly life-sized Terminator mannequin in hallmark, leather attire.