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Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight In Paris’ to open Cannes

Mars Films to simultaneously release film in France

Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” will open the 64th Cannes Film Festival on May 11.

With a high-profile international cast featuring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard, the romantic comedy holds enough Hollywood star wattage to glam up the fest as a Croisette curtain-raiser. Pic , which shot last year in Paris, also stars Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Gad Elmaleh and Lea Seydoux.

Fest has not confirmed whether the film will play in competition, though Allen has a long-standing policy of not submitting his films for competition at festivals.

“I would be very surprised for Woody to be in the competition,” fest director Thierry Fremaux told Daily Variety. “I respect his point of view of not wanting to compete with other filmmakers.”

Along with Robert De Niro, who will serve as jury president, Allen is highly respected in France and Europe.

“‘Midnight in Paris’ is a wonderful love letter to Paris,” Fremaux said. “It’s a film in which Woody Allen takes a deeper look at the issues raised in his last films: our relationship with history, art, pleasure and life.”

Pic is produced by Spain’s Mediapro and Gravier Prods. in New York and distributed by Mars Films in France.

Allen’s relationship with Cannes goes way back: The Brooklyn-born helmer presented “Manhattan” out of competition in 1979. Since then, he has had 10 films play at Cannes, including 2005’s “Match Point,” 2008’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and last year’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger.” Helmer also won the fest’s Fipresci nod in 1985 for “The Purple Rose of Cairo.”

With its partner Canal Plus and the support of the National Federation of French Theaters, the fest plans to make the opening ceremony available via digital transmission to any French theater requesting it so that audiences can experience the opening night’s entire program.

Given that the film is a Spanish production, that opens the door to its simulcasting in Spain as well.

“The Festival de Cannes underlines the strong ties that unite it with the theaters and their audiences, and draws attention to the films in the official selection,” stated the fest in its official release.

One film that had been talked up as a possible opener was DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2.” “Kung Fu Panda” played out of competition at Cannes in 2008.

“It would be a good sign if DreamWorks Animation comes back to use Cannes to announce the feature,” Fremaux told Daily Variety.

While it’s unclear whether “Kung Fu Panda 2” will play Cannes, the toon’s high-profile voice cast, featuring Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Jackie Chan, would further boost the Croisette’s star quotient. Cannes has provided a strong showcase for studio-based animation in recent years: DreamWorks’ “Shrek” and “Shrek 2” both screened in competition, and Disney-Pixar’s “Up” opened the fest out of competition in 2009.

Other films that had generated buzz as possible openers — and which could still be in the Cannes mix, given their post-production schedules — include Luc Besson’s “The Lady,” a take on Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” which EuropaCorp is set to release in France on May 18.

Fest runs May 11-22.

(John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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