Cannes at a standstill as screen phenomenon reloads.
Outdazzling the film, the £2m Matrix party
by Laura Benjamin
The film cost more than £80million to make, so who's going to quibble about an extra couple of million.
The company behind the hotly-anticipated sci-fi film The Matrix Reloaded splashed out an estimated £2million on the most expensive party the Cannes Film Festival has seen to mark its European premiere last night.
Warner Brothers spared no expense in ensuring the bash became the hottest ticket in town, with Kevin Costner among those on the waiting list for a pass. It made the £1million Lord of the Rings launch party two years ago seem positively penny-pinching.
A sizeable chunk of the bill went on flying the stars - Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Monica Bellucci - into France by private jet, then providing them with five-star accommodation at the Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc.
The party was held in a giant three-pronged marquee in Cannes harbour. It took two weeks to erect at a cost of £100,000 and has room for 2,000.
The cast were greeted by 5,000 screaming fans. An unshaven Reeves, 38, in tuxedo, was given the biggest cheer as he stepped on to the red carpet. His pregnant co-star Miss Moss looked elegant in a full-length black lace dress while Jada Pinkett-Smith wore a strapless gown in the same colour.
Fishburne added a splash of colour with a bright blue suit and dark sunglasses.
Miss Bellucci drew gasps as she stepped out of her car to reveal a purple and black Gothic-style full-length dress teamed with long black gloves.
Inside, guests were bathed in bright green light, continuing the theme colour used heavily in promotional material for the film, and treated to hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of special effects based on the film, including a scaled-down version of a giant motorway on which a spectacular car chase takes place.
Waiters were dressed in stark black outfits and dark sunglasses, mirroring costumes worn by Reeves and Miss Moss, while the walls and tables were bare acrylic, reflecting the futuristic tone of the film.
Green cocktails were served, named after each of the main characters in the story.
On the guest list were Will Smith - husband of Miss Pinkett-Smith - Meg Ryan, a member of the Cannes film jury this year, and Penelope Cruz, who opened the festival on Wednesday.
According to a spokesman for Warner Brothers, tickets were so hard to come by that Kevin Costner had to go on a list and Matthew McConaughey was told he could not go. He said: 'This is the hottest ticket in town. Due to increased security at this festival we couldn't send out invitations with all the details, so we had to send out special "save the date" cards to everyone on the list.
'When they replied - and every single person said they would definitely be coming, despite not knowing any of the details - they were told they had to come to our office in person to pick up the invite, so it didn't fall into the wrong hands.'
Cannes is legendary for its lavish premiere parties. Two years ago a replica of the Moulin Rouge was built to promote the Nicole Kidman film while party organisers re-created Middle Earth in an abandoned castle for the Lord of the Rings premiere.
The Matrix Reloaded has already premiered in Los Angeles and will be released in UK cinemas on May 23. Producer Joel Silver gave fans a taste of things to come as he celebrated the launch. He said the third and final part, Matrix: Revolutions, to be released worldwide on November 5, would wrap up any unanswered questions. 'This and the final film are like one long movie cut into two halves, so there will be no questions left unanswered.'
Hotel for Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, £300,000 Monica Bellucci, cast and crew at Hotel du Cap Eden Roc Travel-costs, including private jets from U.S. for stars £300,000 Special effects at party £600,000 Computer equipment to recreate film's special effects. £300,000 Food and wine - and specially created green cocktails to match the £250,000 promotional theme colour Marquee for 2,000VIPs £100,000 Costs of party staff £100,000 Total £1,950,000