i>OCEAN'S TO LAUNCH ON MEDITERRANEAN

Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Thirteen will have its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Daily Variety reported today (Thursday), calling the screening "the latest evidence that the Hollywood-Cannes romance is in full bloom." (Last year saw the glitzy premiere of The Da Vinci Code.) The trade publication said that the Warner Bros. movie will be presented out of competition; the exact date has not yet been set. The festival opens on May 16 and runs through May 27.

LACK OF STANDARDS PLAGUES 3D DIGITAL DISTRIBUTORS

Since 3D digital projection systems currently installed around the world employ incompatible file formats, studios must now distribute dozens of different versions of their films, Disney's chief of production technology said Wednesday. Speaking to the ShoWest exhibitors convention in Las Vegas, Howard Lukk observed that digital projectors currently use eight different file formats. He noted that, with the addition of numerous language soundtracks, Disney is being forced to create 42 different release prints of its upcoming Meet the Robinsons for about 650 3D digital screens -- a "time-consuming and expensive" process. Lukk said that although the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) is working on standardizing 3D digital projection systems, manufacturers of the equipment ought to come together to speed up the process.

GALAXY OF STAR WARS FILMS TO BE SHOWCASED

The Star Wars films, long a favorite target of video spoofs posted online and even full-length dramatic knock-offs, are now giving birth to the "Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge" -- an event being created by Lucasfilm, AtomFilms, and SpikeTV. The three companies on Wednesday announced that they had set up a website, http://starwars.atomfilms.com, where Star Wars fans could submit videos for a chance to have them showcased on Spike TV during the channel's coverage of Lucasfilm's Star Wars Celebration IV convention in Los Angeles (May 24-28), commemorating the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars.

SHYAMALAN RESURFACES WITH BOLLYWOOD FINANCING

Director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), whose stock in Hollywood reportedly fell through the floor following the disastrous failure of his last film, Lady in the Water, has found a Bollywood production company to help foot the bill with 20th Century Fox for a new film, The Happening, which will reportedly star Mark Wahlberg. In a video news conference on Wednesday, Shyamalan, who was born in India but raised in suburban Philadelphia, said that he had approached Mumbai (Bombay)-based UTV to finance half the $57-million budget of the film "so that I can have ownership rights over the movie rather than just selling it to the studio." Ronnie Screwala, CEO of UTV, who agreed to participate in the venture, said, "It's going to be a huge budget, but it will be fantastic if there was an Indian connection on both sides." He said his company also partially financed Chris Rock's upcoming I Think I Love My Wife.

IMAX GETS NEW ORDERS FOR THEATERS

On the heels of reports that IMAX theaters have been posting sold-out signs at most of its super-screen theaters showing Warner Bros.' 300, the Toronto-based company announced Wednesday that it had signed deals to open five new theaters for Regal Cinemas and Dickinson Theaters in the mid-West. "Moviegoers are paying a premium to see Hollywood movies in IMAX's format, and with more major studio releases coming each year, we felt now was the right time to enter the IMAX theater business," said Dickinson Theaters CEO John Hartley. The Dickinson IMAX theaters will be opened prior to 2009. But the three Regal theater screens are expected to be installed within the next three months -- in time for the release of Spider-Man 3 in May.

MAD MAX TO RETURN -- SANS GIBSON

George Miller, the Australian director behind the cult classic Mad Max and the man who won an Oscar last month for his animated Happy Feet, has disclosed plans to produced a Mad Max sequel. In an interview in Sydney with Agence France Presse, the French news agency, Miller said, "I have a few projects in the pipeline including an animation ... but I do want to make another Mad Max movie and get stuck back into that." Miller noted, however, that Mel Gibson, who starred in the original, would not be involved in he sequel. "He was 21 when he made the first one, now he's a lot older and his passion is for film making and directing, Miller said. "I don't think he is into acting and I don't think he would be interested in being involved at all."

Brian B.