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Missing in Venice: Harmony Korine’s ‘The Beach Bum,’ Amazon’s ‘Beautiful Boy’

Unveiling the Venice Film Festival’s glittery lineup Wednesday, Alberto Barbera said he got almost everything he wanted this year. Almost.

Missing is Harmony Korine’s “The Beach Bum,” toplining Matthew McConaughey, who puts in what Barbera describes as an “Oscar-worthy” performance. But, the Venice artistic director said regretfully, Korine’s follow-up to “Spring Breakers,” produced by Anonymous Content, isn’t launching from the Lido. U.S. rights to “The Beach Bum” were picked up by Neon and Vice, but it doesn’t have an Italian distributor yet. A Neon rep said the film has not been slotted for release yet.

There are a few other notable omissions from this year’s slate as well, despite the fact that, under Barbera’s stewardship, Venice has cemented its position as a strong awards-season launch pad.

Also forgoing a Venice premiere is Joel Egerton’s “Boy Erased,” which Focus Features has set for release in November. The film, starring Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea”) as a boy forced to undergo so-called gay conversion therapy, has yet to surface anywhere on the fall festival circuit.

Toronto, which takes place just after Venice and with which Venice often competes for big titles, scored two major “gets”: Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which is slated for a January 2019 outing, and Felix Van Groeningen’s “Beautiful Boy” (pictured), from Amazon Studios. “Beautiful Boy,” a tale of drug addiction starring Timothee Chalamet, had been thought a possible Lido property, but will debut in Canada instead.

Variety reported last week that Francois Ozon’s “Alexandre” would not be bowing from the Lido, which was confirmed Wednesday, but the reason for its absence remains unknown. Another hotly anticipated potential fall title, Xavier Dolan’s English-language “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan,” is possibly hostage at the moment to a creative conflict between the director and distributors, according to sources.

In Rome on Wednesday, Barbera underlined Venice’s growing role in shaping the U.S. awards season, but refrained from any self-aggrandizing pronouncements. “The Venice-Telluride-Toronto triad is, from a promotional standpoint, clearly considered very appealing,” he said, adding: “Today, there is a constructive dialogue [among the three festivals] which, in most cases, ends up positively.”

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