Late pic has Fest taking Wong turn

Press conf. also pushed back as officials await print

Cannes Film Festival organizers said Tuesday that Wong Kar-Wai’s competition entry “2046” may not arrive in Cannes in time for its Thursday morning press screening and public showing afternoon.

Fest sources insist that the evening gala screening will go ahead as scheduled, but uncertainty still surrounds the arrival of a completed print.

“The film is on its way but we don’t know for sure if it will be here in time for the daytime screenings. Every hour counts,” the fest’s artistic director Thierry Fremaux told Variety.

In a rare move, the festival issued a statement apologizing for the situation, announcing also that the press conference with director Wong and actors from the film has been pushed back to Friday.

The fest’s standard technical run-through, which usually takes place at 1 a.m. prior to the screening, has been pushed back to 6 a.m. If the film arrives in time for that morning rehearsal, daytime screenings are expected to be back on schedule.

“A delay in getting the copy of the film obliges us to modify the program for May 20,” said a fest statement. “The Cannes Film Festival and the producers of the film apologize for any inconvenience the change in the program may cause.”

Rumors of delays and the possible no-show of “2046” have been circulating since the days leading up to Cannes but have only now been officially addressed by the fest.

Wong and crew are understood to be working around the clock to complete post-production in Bangkok on the film, only part of which is believed to have been delivered to Paris for subtitling and shipping to Cannes.

The situation mirrors Wong’s history on his previous feature, “In the Mood for Love.” On that 2000 feature, the director reportedly was still shooting epilogue scenes in Cambodia as the Cannes fest got underway, causing it to be screened wet, without proper color-timing.

While rumors have been flying up and down the Croisette regarding similar last-minute shooting on “2046,” sources close to the film said Wong was completing only minor pickup shots two weeks before the festival began.

The eagerly anticipated film originally was expected to bow in Cannes last year and then later to surface in the fall at the Venice fest. But shooting was shut down during the SARS epidemic, causing considerable delays.

Fortissimo is handling world sales on “2046,” which is among the top titles here on U.S. acquisition execs’ radar. Pic’s Asian superstar cast includes Tony Leung, Gong Li, Faye Wong, Carina Lau and Maggie Cheung.