'Basterds' lights up Cannes

Quentin Tarantino receives an eight-minute ovation

CANNES -- The Festival de Cannes got a much-needed star-power boost on Wednesday when it finally saw something it had lacked to date: a superstar-laden premiere.

Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino walked — or, in Tarantino’s case, danced — down the red carpet for the premiere of their World War II action-comedy “Inglourious Basterds,” which the Weinstein Co. is releasing.

Pitt, accompanied by Angelina Jolie, created a stir inside and outside the Palais when he made his appearance. As throngs packed the area outside, claps went up inside the theater when the couple was shown from the red carpet on a closed-circuit feed.

Tarantino then took the chance to ham it up, as one of Cannes’ favorite fils did a series of extended dance moves on the carpet by himself and with French actress Melanie Laurent, who stars in “Basterds.”

The movie then played to raucous cheering, with crowds giving Tarantino an eight-minute standing ovation, sizable by Cannes standards.

The reception for the 2 1/2 hour WWII tale was hardly a complete surprise: Tarantino has been a favorite on the Croisette since “Reservoir Dogs” premiered in 1992 and “Pulp Fiction” won the Palme d’Or in 1994.

Still, it was a critical first step in the movie’s release strategy.

In August, the Weinstein Co. will go wide with the pic — which faces marketing hurdles at 2 1/2 hours long with large chunks in non-English languages — and hopes to capitalize on the momentum of the Croisette debut to spur boxoffice.