“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith” (2005)
“The Usual Suspects” (1995)
“X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006)
The Cannes Film Festival is known for attracting auteur filmmakers from around the world, but that doesn’t mean the programmers can’t throw in a giant curveball every once in awhile. It turns out the biggest film festival in the world can’t resist the likes of X-Men, Jedi, and animated fairy tale characters. Click through the gallery for 20 of the most surprising Cannes screenings.
John Landis’ comedy sequel “Blues Brothers 2000” arrived 18 years after the original “Blues Brothers” hit theaters in 1980. The movie, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman, played out of competition at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
John Singleton’s breakout debut “Boyz N Da Hood” was selected to screen in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival. The filmmaker went on to become the first African American to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Director.
Renny Harlin’s over-the-top 1993 action movie, starring Sylvester Stallone, debuted out of competition at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Stallone also served as co-writer of the movie with Michael France.
Horror legend George A. Romero attended the 1982 Cannes Film Festival and premiered his anthology effort “Creepshow” out of competition. The movie is notable for featuring Stephen King’s first film script.
It’s not shocking to hear Quentin Tarantino had a movie at Cannes, but “Death Proof” is easily his most surprising Palme d’Or contender to date. The film had already opened in U.S. theaters a month earlier as part of “Grindhouse,” but Cannes programmers allowed Tarantino’s standalone entry to compete for the Palme at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
Emile Ardolino’s iconic 1987 romance, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, got its start with a special screening at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. The film went on to win an Academy Award for best original song the following year.
Kevin Smith’s fantasy comedy, starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, premiered out of competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. The story’s religious subject matter drew backlash from the Catholic Church. Smith would return to Cannes’ out-of-competition sidebar with “Clerks II.”
Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element” was selected as the opening night film at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. Reaction to the premiere was mixed, as the film elicited both cheers and boos from the audience.
Disaster master Roland Emmerich is not a name you would necessarily associate with Cannes, but his 1998 take on “Godzilla” screened out of competition at the 51st Cannes Film Festival. The wannabe-blockbuster closed the festival and notoriously earned negative reactions from fans and press.
DreamWorks continued its relationship with Cannes by premiering “Kung Fu Panda” out of competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. The movie earned a standing ovation from the audience.
Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling took the 2016 Cannes Film Festival by storm when Shane Black’s “The Nice Guys” screened out of competition. The movie, one of the more commercial entries at Cannes that year, opened in U.S. theaters a week later.
It’s hard for Cannes to resist a star-studded cast, which makes it surprising “Ocean’s Thirteen” was the first movie in the franchise to debut at the festival. Steven Soderbergh’s third “Ocean’s” film, once again starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt, premiered out of competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
DreamWorks tried and failed to launch a new animated franchise at Cannes with “Over the Hedge.” The adventure comedy, featuring the voice of Bruce Willis, premiered out of competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival but didn’t build enough critical buzz to become a hit when it opened in theaters later that summer.
DreamWorks competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival with Andrew Adamson’s fairytale satire. The film was notable for being the first animated film to compete at Cannes since Disney’s “Peter Pan” in 1953.
The Cannes Film Festival loved “Shrek” so much that its sequel, “Shrek 2,” competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. The fact the 2001 original went on to become a pop culture touchstone and an Oscar winner no doubt helped the franchise return to Cannes. The animated film lost the honor to “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” isn’t the first time Lucasfilm has come to the Croisette. “Revenge of the Sith,” the final film in George Lucas’ prequel trilogy, premiered out of competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
Pixar made history in 2009 when “Up” become the first animated film to open the Cannes Film Festival. Pete Docter’s acclaimed animated movie kicked off the 62nd edition of Cannes. Unlike “Shrek,” the movie premiered out of competition.
Following its breakout debut at Sundance, Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects” stirred up even more buzz for its starry cast and legendary twist ending by playing the 1995 Cannes Film Festival out of competition. The film went on to win Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.
Shortly before opening in U.S. theaters, Ron Howard’s fantasy movie “Willow” was shown as a special presentation at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Howard returned in 2018 with “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
20th Century Fox unveiled Brett Ratner’s “X:Men: The Last Stand” at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival just four days before the movie opened in U.S. theaters over Memorial Day weekend. The movie had a special screening, similar to “Solo: A Star Wars Story” this year.