Nicole Kidman’s “Grace of Monaco,” a biopic about the galvanizing actor-turned-royal originally scheduled for 2013, will open the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It marks the second straight year that a high-profile, star-studded film originally set for an end-of-year release will land in the coveted Cannes spot the following year, after “The Great Gatsby” underwent a similar shift in 2013.
“Monaco” has been the subject of release-date musical chairs by U.S. distributor the Weinstein Co. After first being announced as a Nov. 27 release last year, the Olivier Dahan-directed biopic skipped the early-fall festivals and was eventually pushed to March 2014, as Dahan and Harvey Weinstein battled over the cut. (Dahan had told the French press that Weinstein wants a “sanitized” version of the film.)
The shift to a Cannes premiere is especially notable because it was at the festival a full year before that Harvey Weinstein made a big push for “Monaco” at a special event he held for his then-upcoming summer and fall releases -- they also included “Mandela” and “August: Osage County” -- even bringing out Kidman to flog the upcoming film.
“Monaco” centers on the early-1960s dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle against the backdrop of invasion, and Grace Kelly’s key role in it. Kelly, of course a huge movie star and Oscar winner when she wed Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), became Princess Grace of Monaco in what was called “the marriage of the century.” Six years after the wedding, she was invited back to Hollywood by Alfred Hitchcock to appear in “Marnie” at a time when France was threatening to tax and annex the tiny principality of Monaco, pulling Kelly in different directions. (You can watch a trailer below.)
The Cannes opening, which often features a broad entertainment with few political overtones -- “Midnight in Paris” and “Up” have been among those recently kicking off the world’s most prestigious film festival -- may have a different feel this year. The period the movie covers is a charged one in the history of Monaco, and people familiar with the production have said that the monarchy registered its complicated feelings about some scenes in the film during production, some of which took place in Monaco.
Among the interesting story lines this year, then, will be how much the monarchy is represented at the splashy event in Cannes, which is only about 30 miles from Monaco but of course has a distinct identity.
The Weinstein Co. has not announced a new date for “Monaco,” but most movies that open Cannes hit U.S. theaters shortly after. (“Gatsby,” with its U.S. date already set for the week before, was the rare exception.)
Despite the multiple postponements, there’s reason to think the strategy could work: “Gatsby” became a hit with its new date. And Dahan, incidentally, previously helmed Marion Cotillard to an Oscar as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.”
The Cannes Film Festival runs May 14 to 25 in the south of France, with Jane Campion heading up the competition jury.