Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ set for Cannes

Pitt, Penn pic to premiere at film fest

A full year after it was initially floated as a hot fest prospect, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” is set to make its world premiere in May at the Cannes Film Festival.

It’s still unclear whether the Fox Searchlight drama starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn will play in or out of competition, a decision that likely will not be made until closer to April 14, when fest topper Thierry Fremaux announces the full official selection lineup. But it’s sure to be included in what’s shaping up to be a vintage year for Cannes, with new works by Palme winners Gus Van Sant, the Dardenne brothers, Lars von Trier and Nanni Moretti hotly tipped for competition berths, though Fremaux and his selection committee still have many titles to screen before the April deadline.

Tree of Life” is the rare film to have spent an entire year as a will-it-or-won’t-it possibility on the international festival circuit. When it became clear the film wouldn’t be ready in time for Cannes last year, many assumed it would be unveiled in the fall at the Venice, Toronto and New York fests. Yet word persisted that the famously fussy Malick still hadn’t completed the picture, and the shuttering of original distrib Apparition further complicated the question on when, if ever, “Tree” would see the light of day.

But when Searchlight swooped in to acquire the River Road Entertainment production and slated it for a Memorial Day weekend release (May 27), the stage seemed set for a Cannes 2011 premiere.

“Tree” stands to be one of the hottest tickets in a festival that looks to bounce back from its wanly received 2010 edition. While it’s still coming into focus, the lineup should be chock full of top-tier possibilities, including the Van Sant-directed “Restless,” starring Mia Wasikowska as a terminally ill teenager. An early clue to the pic’s Cannes prospects appeared when Sony yanked it from an original Jan. 28 release, which would have positioned it right after Sundance.

Belgium’s Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne could vie for an unprecedented third Palme with “The Kid With a Bike,” a drama starring Cecile de France.

Von Trier, who galvanized the fest with 2009’s “Antichrist,” may get another chance to do the same with “Melancholia,” a sci-fi-tinged drama with Kirsten Dunst and “Antichrist” star Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Moretti is also considered a festival near-lock for Italo-French co-production “We Have a Pope,” starring Michel Piccoli as the titular figure. Italy will have an especially strong presence this year with Emanuele Crialese’s “Terra Firma” and Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place,” an English-language drama starring Penn (which would make it a busy fest for the “Tree of Life” actor).

The U.K. could also be well represented, its strongest prospect being Scottish helmer Lynne Ramsay’s Tilda Swinton-John C. Reilly starrer “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” Looking less certain among British titles are Andrea Arnold’s adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” and Terence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea,” both of which may not be completed in time.

Chinese helmer Lou Ye, a competish alum with “Summer Palace” and “Spring Fever,” looks to return with one of his most Cannes-friendly items to date with love story “Love and Bruises,” a Sino-French co-production toplining Tahar Rahim (“A Prophet”).

Much more of a question mark is Michael Haneke’s “Love,” which reunites the Austrian auteur with his “Piano Teacher” star, Isabelle Huppert. Reportedly a smaller, lighter affair than his 2009 Palme d’Or winner “The White Ribbon,” the film began a 40-day shoot in February. Despite the tight time frame, early rumors suggest the film may make the deadline.

By contrast, reports suggest that Wong Kar Wai’s hotly anticipated martial-arts biopic “The Grandmasters” won’t be ready in time and will be finished closer to year’s end. Other Croisette perennials unlikely to make the trip this year: David Cronenberg, whose Carl Jung-Sigmund Freud drama “A Dangerous Method” was once tipped for the recent Berlin fest, and Pedro Almodovar, whose “The Skin I Live In” is set for a Sept. 2 release in Spain, suggesting it could appear at one or more of the fall fests.

The French titles, always the last to be decided (often as late as the eve of the announcement), look to present Fremaux and Co. with an especially thorny selection this year, with a wealth of Gallic options including but scarcely limited to Bruno Dumont’s “L’empire,” Christophe Honore’s “The Beloved,” Andre Techine’s “Unforgivable” and Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s “Chicken With Plums.”

Woody Allen’s romantic comedy “Midnight in Paris” will open the fest, which runs May 11-22.

More Biz

  • Herb Dorfman Obit Dead

    Herb Dorfman, Orion Pictures Home Video Executive, Dies at 77

    Herb Dorfman, former Orion Pictures executive and a home video industry veteran, died Feb. 25 of complications from Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He was 77. Dorfman served as head of home entertainment for Orion Pictures from 1987 to late 1996. Orion was a prosperous independent studio in those days that turned out a steady stream [...]

  • Editorial use only. Hand Out HANDOUT

    Big Hit, Home to BTS, Eyes $5B Valuation in IPO Bid; Will Coronavirus Stall the Plan?

    South Korea’s Big Hit Entertainment, home to global K-pop sensations BTS, is moving toward an IPO and recently selected underwriters. Sources in the investment banking industry say JP Morgan, NH Investment & Securities, and Korea Investment & Securities were chosen as main managers early this week, while Mirae Asset Daewoo is also on board as a joint manager. [...]

  • Bob Chapek

    What Disney's Theme Parks Reveal About New CEO Bob Chapek

    Theme parks and resorts aren’t likely top of mind for the industry set when they think of Disney. But in light of the recent (and very swift) appointment of parks and consumer products head Bob Chapek to succeed Bob Iger as Disney CEO, Chapek’s recent interviews at the parks offer a few insights about the [...]

  • Justin Dini Josh Line

    ViacomCBS Promotes Josh Line and Justin Dini in Communications and Marketing

    ViacomCBS has named Comedy Central veteran Josh Line to serve as executive VP and chief brand officer for the newly enlarged company. Line will oversee all marketing strategies for the company with an emphasis on synergy efforts across a collection of brands that range from MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central to Paramount Pictures, CBS [...]

  • Lizzo Grammys performance

    Lizzo Hit With Copyright Suit Over 'Truth Hurts'

    Three songwriters filed a countersuit against Lizzo in federal court on Friday, alleging that they have been denied proper credit for writing her breakout hit, “Truth Hurts.” Lizzo sued the songwriters — brothers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, as well as Justin “Yves” Rothman — last October, seeking a determination that they did not deserve credit [...]

  • Marcie Allen

    Marcie Allen Confirms She’s in Talks to Sell MAC Presents

    Marcie Allen, founder and owner of the music experiential agency MAC Presents, confirmed to Variety that she is in talks to sell the company, which she launched in 2004. Over the years the agency has engineered partnerships between major artists and brands, including the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Keith Urban, Green Day, John Mayer and [...]

  • media stocks - wall-street

    Stock Markets Log Historic Losses Amid Coronavirus Selloff

    U.S. corporate giants are the teeth of another wild ride on Wall Street as investors brace for the end of a week of historic losses for the Dow and other major indices. The Dow was down 357 points, or 1.3%, at the close of trading Friday, after falling more than 1,000 points early on in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content