Fri, 19 May 2023 at 2:36 am BST
It was a great night for Disney as Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny had a smash debut in its world premiere Thursday evening at the Cannes Film Festival. The June 30 release received a warm five-minute standing ovation, especially for Harrison Ford in his swan song in the title role he started playing 40-plus years ago.
There noticeably to witness the French love and affection was none other than Disney boss Bob Iger, attending his first Cannes festival (believe it or not) and even taking his own photos during the ovation for the movie. At the Carlton Beach afterparty, I told him Deadline had just been the first to post its review, a rave (from our colleague Stephanie Bunbury) and you could see the absolute relief on his face. “You have made me very happy to hear that,” he told me, and he meant it. All this came on the same day Disney took another shot at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by announcing the cancellation of a plan to move several thousand California employees to Florida. The Cannes respite must have been nice.
Later at the afterparty, Iger interrupted my conversation with co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge to offer his own praise for her sterling performance in a movie I would say is right up there with Steven Spielberg’s best in the series starting with 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which co-starred Sean Connery as Indy’s dad. James Mangold told over directing chores on this one with the blessing of executive producers Spielberg and George Lucas, and he did a great job.
After the movie, Mangold told the Grand Lumiere crowd it was like having a family making this film, and that was echoed by many at the party who felt the same way, including Waller-Bridge. Mangold also told me he was deep in preparation for his Bob Dylan biopic for Disney’s Searchlight Pictures starring Timothée Chalamet as Dylan, and reminded that the young star will be doing his own singing. Elle Fanning is in it, and he added that Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as iconic folk singer Pete Seeger. “Searchlight has really been providing a home for me,” Mangold said. Clearly excited about the new project and the reception for his Indy movie, he noted ironically to the audience that the only other time he was at Cannes was for his early indie film Heavy in Directors’ Fortnight at the start of his career.
Producers Frank Marshall and Lucasfilm head Kathy Kennedy were beaming, reminding me that they actually met and fell in love during the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark and have been together ever since. I asked Marshall about that spectacular New York subway horse-riding chase Ford does, and he said it was all shot in Glasgow, Scotland, where they built some of the set but found the perfect location, noting it turned out they had the same planning designer of Manhattan as Glasgow, so it all was kismet in that way. Wait until you see this action scene, one of the best in the entire series.
Finally I got a chance to talk to the man of the hour, Harrison Ford, who was still at the party as I was leaving well past 1 a.m. (!) and having a great time with wife Calista Flockhart. She told me she couldn’t believe Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux introduced her to the audience, and even before her husband (!) Ford received a special Golden Palme from the festival as a “surprise” before the film rolled. He clearly was choked up by the gesture. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” he joked about the emotion of the moment. “It is like you are going to die and you see your life passing before your eyes. This was my life,” he said to the crowd after clips of his career rolled by.
At 80, Ford is still the ultimate movie star and this final turn as Indy is a beautiful elegy with lots of nostalgia and surprises attached. The festival put together a killer tribute reel that began with a Gallic touch as a young Ford explained how he was supposed to get the starring role in French iconic director Jacques Demy’s Los Angeles-set 1969 drama The Model Shop with Anouk Aimee. But cast instead was Gary Lockwood, an actor hot off co-starring in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, “I never saw it, but I heard it was good,” Ford told me after I said I saw a special screening of the film with Lockwood in attendance just a few years ago at the Aero in Santa Monica.
Things worked out for Ford in end anyway, you might say. He is busier than ever with not just a huge summer movie awaiting in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, but two TV series — 1923 and Shrinking — that have put him in the Emmy conversation. “They are all good, so I am happy,” he said.
This night was a great way to get the 76th edition of this festival really off on a high.