At the very least, the opening night spot for The Great Gatsby will ensure one hell of a party if 20th Century Fox intend on matching the lavish style, theatrics, and expense that was on display during Baz Luhrmann’s previous open night soiree for 2001’s Moulin Rouge! If ever the was a film worthy of such unbridled decadence, Luhrmann’s Gatsby is it. Unfortunately for us mere mortals, a Cannes opening night is a bridge over raging torrents of champagne too far. The more pertinent question, especially in regards to our local industry, to which received fervent shot in the arm during Gatsby filming, does opening night guarantee any degree of critical or commercial success?
Luhrmann is an extremely responsible film maker, at least in terms of national interests anyway. Australia aside (where else was he going to film it, right), Luhrmann has always tried to skew his productions to include as much local talent as possible, both in front and behind the camera. As his productions and budgets have grown larger, so has their importance to the local film industry. A Gatsby smash might just ensure another multi-million blockbuster heads our way.
English language films have dominated with The Da Vinci Code (2006), My Blueberry Nights (2007), Blindness
(2008), Up (2009), Robin Hood (2010), Midnight in Paris (2011) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) opening Cannes in recent years. In terms of critical and commercial successes, they’re a motley collection with fortunes fluctuating wildly from film to film but one thing they all had in common was a undeniable pre-release buzz. If we focus purely on the past two years, we see a Cannes selection committee in form, selecting bona fide success stories with positive Cannes reactions translating to impressive box-office numbers and critical praise yet The Great Gatsby is on completely different scale. Can the streak continue?
Bucking tradition, The Great Gatsby will open in the US a week prior to Cannes. At least that should soften the blow should the film fail to live up to expectation. Call me an optimist, but I think that’s unlikely.