Will Cannes crush 'India Jones?'

May 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Indiana Jones has been in tight spots before, but he faced one of the biggest hazards of his life as hostile hordes of critics at the Cannes Film Festival prepared to dissect his latest big-screen adventure Sunday. A thumbs-up or thumbs-down from Cannes will not undermine the blockbuster prospects when "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" opens in theaters worldwide Thursday.

Yet the film, reuniting director Steven Spielberg, executive producer George Lucas and star Harrison Ford, could go down as another critical casualty of Cannes, whose fierce press corps stood ready to bury Indy if the flick failed to live up to the colossal hype preceding its release.

Cannes crowds took down the opening-night entry two years ago, "The Da Vinci Code," whose overblown melodrama drew titters and catcalls at the first press screening - though director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks had the last laugh as "The Da Vinci Code" went on to gross $758 million worldwide.

That same year, festival audiences tripped up Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst's "Marie Antoinette" with a frosty reception, while "Southland Tales" with Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Michelle Gellar was annihilated by terrible Cannes reviews.

Coming 19 years after Indy's last tale, "Crystal Skull" was by far the festival's most-anticipated film.

A press screening was scheduled just hours before Ford, Spielberg and Lucas were to parade along the festival's swooping red carpet accompanied by Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf and other co-stars. With press screenings also planned Sunday for critics in the U.S., the word on Indy will spread quickly on the Internet.

Set in 1957, the new movie lands archaeologist Indy in a race with Soviet agents to find an ancient crystal skull that can bestow immeasurable power on those returning it to a mythical Amazon city from where it was stolen.