Weinsteins to tease 'Grace of Monaco' at Cannes, while 'Zulu' will close festival

Posted by · 5:40 am · April 13th, 2013

We already knew that Olivier Dahan’s “Grace of Monaco,” starring Nicole Kidman, isn’t going to be ready in time for a Cannes Film Festival premiere — appropriate as that would be for the Riviera-set biopic. But that’s not stopping The Weinstein Company using the Croisette as a platform for the film anyway: Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione reports that footage from the film will be unveiled at the festival in some capacity.

It would appear, then, that the Weinsteins are planning a similar showcase to the one they held at the festival last year, where footage from their eventual prestige releases “The Master,” “Django Unchained” and “Silver Linings Playbook” was shown to a select crowd of journalists who duly set the buzz mill turning.

Somewhat tellingly, all three of those films wound up performing better in the awards season than the Weinsteins titles that were actually premiered at Cannes. “Lawless” and “Killing Them Softly” couldn’t build on the prestige of their Competition placing; meanwhile, “The Sapphires,” which opened in the US last month, hasn’t taken off as the international crowdpleaser it could have been. The year before, of course, they had better luck, snapping up “The Artist” at Cannes and riding it all the way to Oscar night glory.

We don’t know yet what kind of “Artist”-level surprises are in the wings, but the impression at this point is that the Weinsteins won’t be using Cannes as the prime launchpad for their late-year hopefuls. But the promised tease of “Grace of Monaco,” combined with the previously announced release date of December 27, suggests they do have lofty goals for this one. (Dahan has a lot to prove: he may have directed Marion Cotillard to an Oscar in “La Vie en Rose,” but his first English-language feature, the Renee Zellweger-Forest Whitaker road movie “My Own Love Song,” was a barely-seen calamity.)

It’ll be interesting to see if they preview any other titles with it: Deadline suggests “August: Osage County” (which has already been screened), “The Butler,” “Salinger,” “Long Walk to Freedom” and “One Chance,” none of which are very likely to show up in the Cannes lineup, as possibilities.

In other Cannes news, French-South African cop thriller “Zulu” has been announced as the festival’s official closing film. That’s a fairly inauspicious slot: tellingly screened when a lot of critics have already packed their bags, Cannes closers have a tendency to underwhelm, and the list of recent selections is a largely undistinguished one. At best, they’ve been diverting not-all-there efforts like Julie Berticelli’s “The Tree”; at worst, major auteur misfires like Barry Levinson’s “What Just Happened?” or Christophe Honore’s “Beloved.”

Here’s hoping “Zulu” is more of the diverting side, though casting Orlando Bloom as a hard South African cop is not the surest path to success. He and Forest Whitaker star as police partners in Cape Town who, to use the festival’s vague synopsis, are “caught up in a suspenseful search which combines elements of political film noir and social study.” 

Director Jerome Salle was Cesar-nominated for his debut feature, “Anthony Zimmer” — which was remade in the US as “The Tourist,” but let’s not hold that against him — before going on to make two films based on the Belgian “Largo Winch” comic. The South African in me is curious to check the film out; the film critic less so, but I’ll be there to the end.

The full Cannes lineup, by the way, will be announced on Thursday morning.

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