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The Weinstein Co’s First Look at Cannes for a Second Year

Last year the Weinstein Co. gave Cannes participants a chance to see clips from some films that had never before been seen — The Master, Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook. This year, most of what they were offering had already been seen so the Weinstein Co had to up their game slightly and they did so by having some of the stars from their forthcoming films show up unannounced, Grace of Monaco’s Nicole Kidman and Fruitvale’s Michael B. Jordan.

Media people and other types flooded into one of the back rooms of the Majestic hotel. One well-dressed woman headed for a gala screening later that night was pleading with a publicist to let her in, showing her an invite (someone else’s) on her ipad. There had to be hundreds in that room as trays of champagne made the rounds and guests dined on fried fish, pate, and other sorts of tiny hors d’hourves. It wasn’t particularly fancy but it was a nice break from the usual free coffee in the wi-fi room.

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After we saw Kidman and Jordan walk in, we were herded into a screening room where Harvey Weinstein stood before the group to offer up their 2013 slate. As we sat down other famous people came into the room and took their seats up front – Fruitvale’s Octavia Spencer was there, with the rest of their cast. Weinstein called on Nicole Kidman to intro Grace of Monaco first since she is a jury member and had to get away to see a film. He then introduced Rooney Mara who was there to represent Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Eventually everyone who was there in connection with a Weinstein Co film would come up on stage before giving the room over to the clips.

Most of what we saw we’ve seen already, including the trailers for The Grandmaster, Fruitvale, and August: Osage County. We saw new clips from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which looks fantastic. We got an extended look at what to expect from Grace of Monaco. Right now it looks hit or miss I’d say. It looked a bit like a tough sell to me but one has to see the whole film, of course. The Butler is also a tough sell to the media crowd. It seems to have staunch opposition already — you know, it’s not cool enough? It looks too Oscary? The real story of who the butler really was and what he did is overshadowed by their vague annoyance at the project. I, in turn, find myself annoyed at their annoyance so I’ll just wait and see on that score but needless to say it has an upward climb already with critics and bloggers and no one has even seen it yet.

The documentary Salinger was also one of the sneak peeks at something new. It plays like a thriller as the filmmakers try to nail down who Salinger was. If you don’t already know what happened to JD Salinger’s life, and all of those tawdry details, this one will be quite the experience.

Once again The Weinstein Co. has a full plate heading into Oscar season, with a couple of major film projects that could be Best Picture contenders. This early out, it’s looking most promising for Fruitvale Station and August: Osage County. There are standout performances like Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Kristen Scott Thomas’ startling supporting turn in Only God Forgives, Oprah in The Butler, potentially Kidman in Grace of Monaco, certainly Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer from Fruitvale, and of course, Meryl Streep (at the very least) from August: Osage County.

All in all I’d say the event was a success, and a bit of a hat trick for Weinstein Co, considering they didn’t have the hotly anticipated, unseen slate they had last year.

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