Amid fickle Riviera skies and the looming potential that the WGA strike and France’s own heightened tensions over pension reforms could simmer to a boil here, the red carpet is partially rolled out and technicians have been milling up and down the Croisette today as preparations continue for the start of the Cannes Film Festival which officially kicks off on Tuesday.
It’s not a massive hive of activity, though there’s enough buzzing about to make it clear this isn’t just your average Sunday on the Riviera. It could also be the calm before storms (of the meteorological, or industry, ilk) roll in.
For now, the scene is serene (though the weather is changeable). There are no blockages of note on the Croisette, but there is a sizeable swath of the (beachside) sidewalk leading up to the Palais that has been barricaded as works are being done. A security guard told us today this is independent of the festival. We’ve reached out to the festival to see if this is expected to disrupt the flow of foot-traffic to gala screenings.
An easier stroll today was in front of the Carlton Hotel which is fresh from a seven-year renovation estimated at 350M euros ($380M), and which features a huge promotional installation for Disney/Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The Harrison Ford-starrer will world premiere here out of competition on Thursday. Across the hotel’s entry pathway, there’s a giant billboard space on the lawn reserved for Paramount.
Another piece of prime real estate, the Carlton pier, is decked out with a billboard for Sony/PlayStation’s Gran Turismo. That’s where director Neill Blomkamp, cast members David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Archie Madekwe, Geri Halliwell Horner and producer Asad Qizilbash will be on hand May 26 for a photo call. The movie, which releases in August, is not part of the festival, however Sony has been savvy about using the event to promote its movies well in advance.
The hotel’s front façade hasn’t changed much, and as of this afternoon today was not yet adorned with the usual promotional posters. However, the interior is striking, replete with a luxurious courtyard garden and pool area, as well as new dining spaces. Having been closed for two-and-a-half years, it should mark a welcome return to the festival, though it will take even seasoned fest attendees a while to figure out the new indoor configuration.
The Carlton isn’t the only Cannes palace with a facelift. The Grand Hotel has become the Mondrian and completely redone its esplanade and interior, and added a Mr. Nakamoto restaurant. Be warned, however, if you’re bringing your dog to Cannes this year, it won’t be granted access to the grass unless you’re a guest of the hotel. Here’s hoping that the lush new sofas and armchairs withstand the next two weeks.
Elsewhere, we spied the former Wild Bunch offices sporting signage under the new Goodfellas name and logo, and a number of other companies already with their banners flying (WME Independent, Protagonist Pictures, Pathé and more).