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Clooney & Co gamble by taking Ocean's 13 to Cannes

Updated: 2007-05-23 09:16

Clooney & Co gamble by taking Ocean's 13 to Cannes

File photo shows a film poster at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, May 15, 2007. [Reuters]

The men of "Ocean's Thirteen" -- Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and the rest -- rolled into Cannes this week betting its notoriously tough film critics would declare their movie a winner.

The follow-up to two previous "Ocean's" capers about a group of con artists led by suave Danny Ocean (Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Pitt), who swindle money from bad guys, opens at the world's top film festival on Thursday and lands in theatres in June.

A Cannes debut represents a risk for a major Hollywood movie like "Ocean's" because reviewers in the French Riviera resort tend to throw their support behind European, Asian and U.S. art house films, and foresake Hollywood studio fare like "Ocean's."

But Pitt, Clooney and the gang defended "Ocean's" as a form of pure entertainment that deserved its place alongside films like Cannes opening night movie "My Blueberry Nights" from Chinese director Wong Kar Wai.

"There is a fair argument for deep and thought-provoking ... types of films as well as pure, unadulterated entertainment," Pitt told Reuters.

Damon, another of the "Ocean's" stars, said: "You still want the bigger movies to be good."

But sometimes the critics in Cannes misread the mood of the public when it comes to big-budget Hollywood films.

Last year, studio film "The Da Vinci Code" opened the festival with a smattering of boos from Cannes audiences, poor reviews and newspaper headlines that immediately trumpeted the poor reception.

Yet "Da Vinci" went on to haul in $232 million in its initial weekend following the Cannes premiere, and it still ranks as No. 4 on the list of all-time worldwide debuts.


With years of movie experience behind it, the "Ocean's" crew knows as well as anyone that the marketing muscle of a major Hollywood studio can often guarantee big box office, despite what could be a round of poor reviews at Cannes.

With that box office logic in mind, the stars were happy to joke about what awaited them.

"It's really not about the film, as much as (winning) the award," Clooney quipped, referring to the coveted Palme d'Or handed out to the best film in Cannes. "Ocean's Thirteen" is not in competition and so does not qualify for the award.

"We think we're going to win," joked Damon.

In the film, the follow-up to "Ocean's Eleven" and "Ocean's Twelve," Danny reunites the crew that includes intellectual geek Linus Caldwell (Damon) and mechanical whiz Basher Tarr ( Don Cheadle) to exact revenge on Vegas casino operator Willy Bank ( Al Pacino).

Bank has swindled a senior member of Ocean's crew, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould), out of his share of a new casino Bank is building. The underhanded thievery gives Tishkoff a heart attack and sends him into deep despair.

Ocean calls the men together to help rouse the old man back to life, and the way to do it is to hit Bank's new casino on the night of its grand opening.