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Cannes 2024: What’s In The Mix? (Part 1)

Roll up, roll up: It’s Cannes prognostication time.

With the 77th edition of the great cinema showcase less than three months away, the blurred outline of a lineup is beginning to emerge. At this stage, the process of elimination is as telling as the process of inclusion: hardly any films have been guaranteed a slot by the festival, but we’re starting to get some clarity on which projects are likely to be ready and which are leaning towards a different launch strategy.

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There has been a longstanding expectation that George Miller will be back at the festival with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux himself has said he “hopes” it’ll be there and while it isn’t locked yet, nothing we’re hearing so far indicates it won’t be at the festival. The film’s May 22 France release date and Miller’s long history with the festival surely make this a Cannes no-brainer.

Furiosa will be a welcome blockbuster at the event because a prevailing sentiment we’re hearing from studio and distribution sources is that this Cannes may not have quite the same blockbuster power of the past two editions, which featured the likes of Killers of the Flower Moon, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Elemental, Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis. This could be cyclical or partly down to the strike.

Inevitably, 2023 is going to be a very hard act to follow. In addition to multiple starry studio movies, the strong Competition featured the likes of awards darlings Anatomy Of A Fall and The Zone Of Interest alongside a host of previous Palme d’Or winners and the fest kicked off with the buzz of Johnny Depp’s ‘comeback’ movie Jeanne Du Barry and included anticipated if ultimately ill-fated series The Idol. The 76th edition — perhaps benefitting from a Covid bottleneck — will go down as one of the more memorable recent editions of the festival.

Among studio movies we hear won’t be on the Croisette despite their May, June or July release dates are Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes, If, Inside Out 2, A Quiet Place: Day One and Deadpool And Wolverine. We’re also hearing that Back To Black (pre-fest launch date was already known) won’t be on the Croisette and there are no plans at present to take The Crow (that would have been fun), despite both having release dates around that time and strong ties to France.

There had been anticipation that Steve McQueen’s Apple drama Blitz could be a Croisette debut but we hear that is unlikely. Same story for Apple’s Sydney Sweeney-Julianne Moore starrer Echo Valley, and Clint Eastwood’s undated Juror #2, which isn’t expected to make a surprise Croisette appearance. Meanwhile, buzzy movies including Joker: Folie A Deux, Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, Gladiator 2 and Wolfs are all dated for fall. The Joker sequel is widely anticipated for Venice. Nosferatu is dated for Christmas.

After the huge success of Poor Things, festival heads are waiting on tenterhooks to know where Yorgos Lanthimos’ new movie Kinds Of Kindness goes. Emma Stone is back and it’s another stellar cast for the acclaimed Greek filmmaker including Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, Hunter Schafer, Joe Alwyn, Willem Dafoe, Hong Chao and Mamoudou Athie. The movie is still in post and remains in contention for both Cannes and a fall festival splash, though one would wonder whether the recent heavy awards season commitments for Lanthimos mean a festival later in the year becomes more likely.

Francis Ford Coppola’s starry epic Megalopolis is a key piece of this year’s festival puzzle. Nothing is confirmed regarding a festival berth — so Cannes is still in play — but we understand the movie is on course for a big fall IMAX release which could make a Venice or North American festival launch more likely. Another of the big-canvas wildcards is Kevin Costner’s epic western Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1. The movie isn’t tracking for Cannes (it has a late June release date) but the door isn’t entirely shut either.

Among anticipated movies we hear are in the mix for this year’s festival (ie nothing confirmed, but not ruled out) are Paolo Sorrentino’s Parthenope, Audrey Diwan’s buzzy reimagining of Emmanuelle, Andrea Arnold’s Bird, Edward Berger’s Conclave, Baltasar Kormákur’s Touch, David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds and Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Harvest.

Ben Whishaw starrer Limonov: The Ballad of Eddie should be ready as should Babak Anvari’s Hallow Road, and there are expectations that French movies by Leos Carax, Michel Hazanavicius (being an animation this one may need longer), Noémi Merlant, François Ozon and Arnaud Desplechin will be in contention if they are finished. We gather that Jim Jarmusch’s Father, Mother, Sister, Brother is still filming so that makes a Cannes berth a hard ask but could Jacques Audiard’s Zoe Saldana and Selena Gomez starrer Emilia Perez be ready? That would be fun.

We hear that Maria Callas biopic Maria, starring Angelina Jolie, is more likely to debut in fall, something also true of Justin Kurzel’s The Order, Brady Corbet’s The Brutalist, A24’s The Front Room and Paul Schrader’s Oh Canada. Mike Leigh is another Cannes regular who we’re hearing is more likely to launch later in the year, as are A24-Studiocanal title We Live In Time and David Lowery’s Mother Mary, as well as Luca Guadagnino’s Queer. Amy Adams starrer Nightbitch never seemed like an obvious Cannes movie and we don’t expect it to launch there. The Angelina Jolie-directed Without Blood remains a question mark, as does Sean Baker’s Anora and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The End.

Johnny Depp’s Modi is a question mark, though it only wrapped late last month so such a quick turnaround seems unlikely. Also uncertain is the status of Julian Schnabel’s starry Hand Of Dante, Terrence Malick’s The Way Of The Wind and Karim Ainouz’s Motel Destino. We hear that Ali Abbasi’s anticipated Donald Trump movie The Apprentice is more likely to debut in fall, and we assume buzzy Netflix titles such as Six Triple Eight and The Piano Lesson will remain off the table due to Cannes’ windowing rules.

Another movie in the wildcard section of this discussion is Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders, which is being discussed by insiders for a potential slot somewhere in the lineup. On paper, this seems an unlikely choice given that it launched at North American festivals and at London last year but Nichols has history with Cannes and the starry movie isn’t released until June. The door isn’t shut on this one.

The above is a first snap-shot of some of the (mainly English-language) movies that have been in the conversation as potential Cannes titles across the different sections. The majority of the final lineup is of course made up of non-English language films and we’ll have more on those soon. Rest assured, whatever’s on the menu, Cannes is always a feast.

Mike Fleming Jr, Anthony D’Alessandro and Nancy Tartaglione contributed to this report.

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