Cannes finds closer after ‘What’ cuts

Tepid Sundance response prompts changes

So what did happen to “What Just Happened?”

Barry Levinson and Art Linson‘s skewering of Hollywood starring Robert De Niro was hyped as a hot title in the weeks preceding its bow at Sundance.

But the film fizzled as critics weighed in with tepid reviews. The film’s reps, CAA and Cinetic, left Park City without a domestic distrib deal.

As word hit last week that the film is now being aimed as the closing-night pic at the Cannes Film Festival, many in the industry were left scratching their heads. “Did they see the same film we saw?” asked one exec.

Maybe not.

When “What Just Happened?” played its second festival two months after Sundance, audiences saw something shorter happen.

AFI Dallas fest director Michael Cain says they unspooled a different cut. “Most of the changes were in the final minutes of the film, tightening it by around 7-8 minutes.”

Mark Cuban‘s Dallas-based 2929 Productions produced “What Just Happened?” and is a big supporter of AFI Dallas. 2929 partner Todd Wagner was honored at last month’s event and pleased with the audience response to the new cut.

And Cain says Cannes may have a completely different version.

“Barry Levinson did tell me about the Cannes cut and it has a different opening, middle and ending. From what he told me it sounded really interesting.”

Wagner was unavailable for comment. Cain was sworn to secrecy on the exact changes.

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