Justin Timberlake as Neil Bogart? 5 Hot Cannes Projects (That Went Absolutely Nowhere)
From Brigitte Nielsen as She-Hulk to an ill-fated biopic starring Lady Gaga (supposedly), splashy announcements that go bust are constant on the Croisette.
Lights, cameras, attention! With approximately 90 percent of the world’s media decamping on a relatively small stretch of coastline for a week in May, there’s good reason why the Cannes Film Festival has become a popular spot to make a flashy film announcement. But as anyone who has been to a few press conferences and launch parties will know, not everything that is given a star-fuelled promotional giddy-up on the Croisette is an automatic dead cert (many are anything but). Some projects fizzle and die over the coming years, left to forever roam in "development" limbo land, while others spectacularly burst into flames within hours. Here are a few of the more recent major Cannes launches to never see the light of day.
1991: Brigitte Nielsen as She-Hulk
Remember Brigitte Nielsen as She-Hulk, the early '90s superhero smash that would lay the foundations for future Marvel hits? Not quite. The statuesque Red Sonja star was hauled over to Cannes in 1991 to do interviews and a photocall to promote the upcoming action film for New World International, with so many photographers amassing on the Majestic pier that she had to be put into a boat. Concept art of her in full She-Hulk attire (green costume, green hair, green lipstick, strangely non-green face) was even distributed, but sadly the necessary funding never materialized. Marvel has since become a bit better at making movies; as for the She-Hulk artwork, it now fetches a small fortune on eBay.
2010: Liam Gallagher’s Beatles Film
Sporting a tight leather jacket and kooky Audrey Hepburn-style sunglasses, Liam Gallagher was serving up his trademark swagger at Cannes in 2010 to announce the launch of The Longest Cocktail Party, a biopic about the decline of the Beatles in the late '60s that he was producing. “We’re doing the soundtrack, we’re doing the clothes,” bragged the musician, with assurances the project would be out in 2011. Seven years on and Gallagher has been divorced, seen his band Beady Eye rise and fall and even thrown his support behind an Oasis documentary (which has been developed and released), but The Longest Cocktail Party is still in script stage, a stage it has been at now far longer than the period the film was hoping to cover.
2012: AngelWorld’s $150 Equity Fund
$150 million! Six independent feature film projects! There was good reason for the industry to get excited in 2012 when a brand new equity fund was announced on the Croisette. But AngelWorld Entertainment, led by its heavenly sounding CEO Darby Angel, was to ensure that the investor came first. “What we don’t want is to have producers calling us and thinking we have a soft touch,” said the former IT entrepreneur. “We have tough, very stringent requirements” So stringent, in fact, that no films have been made with the fund.
2013: Justin Timberlake’s Spinning Gold
Throwing a party for a film you haven’t actually found a director for is always a risky affair, but when the force that is Justin Timberlake has signed on to take the lead (and co-produce), then surely it’s worth going a little wild. The star was in Cannes in 2013 to promote Spinning Gold, a high-profile rags-to-riches disco-fueled biopic of iconic 1970s record exec Neil Bogart, teasing guests at the bash with a few lines from hits such as "Last Dance," "Ain’t No Sunshine" and Donna Summer’s "Love to Love You Baby." Spike Lee was later tapped to helm, but four years on and the gold has seemingly stopped spinning. Timberlake recently said they had been “chipping away at the material,” which doesn’t exactly sound like it’ll be getting the crowds pumping soon.
2016: Dionne Warwick Biopic
In quite possibly a record for a project’s implosion, the Dionne Warwick biopic boldly announced at Cannes in 2016 had pretty much come undone by the time the last journalist had shuffled out of the press conference. After Warwick herself revealed that none other than Lady Gaga would be playing '60s Brit rival Cilla Black, the singer’s reps quickly came back with an “er, no she won’t” (or words to that effect). There was a bit of back and forth (all in the same day), with Warwick later insisting the wrong reps had been reached, but the project appears to be in limbo. This year, however, a Dionne Warwick doc is launching at the festival, which should make things less awkward on the casting side.