The period drama racked up 401,481 admissions in its first week of play, the best showing in a decade for a Cannes opening-night film, according to French distributor Le Pacte. The last movie to do more when sailing into French cinemas simultaneous to its Cannes stop was Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 feature The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (760,438 admissions).
The Great Gatsby, of course, was a major Hollywood studio film.
More times than not, Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux selects an independent title to open the storied festival. It is also common for a French-language film, such as Jeanne du Barry, to receive the coveted spot. (It’s tradition for the opening-night film to unfurl in French cinemas that same night.)
From French multihyphenate Maïwenn, Jeanne du Barry stars Depp as King Louis XV, while Maïwenn plays the titular character in addition to directing.
Cannes marked Depp’s first major appearance after years of legal wrangling and a tumultuous divorce with ex-wife Amber Heard, one that included allegations of domestic violence and two high-profile defamation lawsuits (the latter was settled in Depp’s favor, with Heard ordered to pay $10 million).
To date, no deal has been announced for a U.S. distributor to release Jeanne du Barry in the U.S. The film has drawn mixed reviews from many critics, while it isn’t clear whether a specialty division owned by a major studio would go into business again with Depp.
Maïwenn, a Cannes jury prize winner for her 2011 drama Polisse and an outspoken critic of the #MeToo movement, faced her own share of controversy of late after allegations surfaced that she grabbed the head of journalist Edwy Plenel and spit on him while he was dining at a Paris restaurant. Plenel published an investigation regarding sexual abuse allegations against filmmaker Luc Besson, who happens to be Maïwenn’s ex-husband.
Other French-language films that have opened Cannes in recent years include 2017’s Ismael’s Ghosts (Les Fantômes d’Ismaël), which drew 173,994 admissions in its box office debut, and 2015’s Standing Tall (La Tête haute), which drew 250,271 admissions.
Nicole Kidman’s Grace of Monaco (2014), which is in English and in French, brought in 152,404 admissions at the French box office in its debut while opening Cannes.