Johnny Depp's film "Jeanne du Barry" has achieved the best start for a Cannes Film Festival opener in a decade at the French box office. The period drama, in which Depp portrays King Louis XV, garnered 401,481 admissions in its first week of release, marking a significant success. According to the film's French distributor, Le Pacte, this performance surpasses that of any other Cannes opening-night film since Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" in 2013, which had 760,438 admissions. It is worth noting that "The Great Gatsby" was a major Hollywood studio production.
In many instances, the Cannes Film Festival opens with an independent film chosen by festival director Thierry Frémaux. It is also customary for a French-language film like "Jeanne du Barry" to occupy this prestigious slot. As part of tradition, the film premieres in French cinemas on the same night as its festival screening.
Directed by Maïwenn, a talented figure in the French entertainment industry, "Jeanne du Barry" features Johnny Depp in the role of King Louis XV, while Maïwenn herself portrays the titular character.
Depp's appearance at Cannes marked his return to the spotlight following a period of legal battles and a highly publicized divorce from his ex-wife Amber Heard, which involved allegations of domestic violence and defamation lawsuits. Ultimately, Depp emerged victorious in the defamation case, with Heard ordered to pay him $10 million.
As of now, there has been no announcement regarding a U.S. distributor for the release of "Jeanne du Barry" in the United States. The film has received mixed reviews from critics, and it remains uncertain whether a specialized division owned by a major studio would collaborate with Depp in the future.
Maïwenn, who previously won a Cannes jury prize for her 2011 film "Polisse" and has been openly critical of the #MeToo movement, recently found herself embroiled in controversy. Allegations arose that she had grabbed the head of journalist Edwy Plenel and spat on him while he was dining at a restaurant in Paris. Plenel had published an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against filmmaker Luc Besson, who happens to be Maïwenn's ex-husband.
In recent years, other French-language films have served as the opening films of Cannes. For example, in 2017, "Ismael's Ghosts" (Les Fantômes d'Ismaël) debuted with 173,994 admissions, and in 2015, "Standing Tall" (La Tête haute) drew 250,271 admissions.
The English and French language film "Grace of Monaco" (2014), starring Nicole Kidman, garnered 152,404 admissions in its French box office debut coinciding with the Cannes opening.