Cannes Day 8: ‘The Idol’ Draws Divisive Reaction, Netflix Spends Big on Todd Haynes

Look for Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman to get an awards push later this year for Haynes’ “May December”

Lily-Rose Depp, Abel "TheWeeknd" Tesfaye
Lily-Rose Depp, Abel "TheWeeknd" Tesfaye (CREDIT: Getty Images)

While Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” is certainly the buzziest film to play Cannes so far, Todd Haynes’ return to narrative filmmaking in four years, “May December,” held its own when it debuted the same day — and now it has a home.

The film, described as a campy yet compelling look at an actress (Natalie Portman) who visits the home of a woman (Julianne Moore) she’s set to portray on-screen, ended up being hailed by a few critics as the best feature of the evening. And with U.S. acquisitions being a tad lighter within the first week, many were wondering if, truly, the era of big studio buys was over.

Nope. At 2:30am PST Netflix acquired “May December” for $11 million in an old-fashioned bidding war that, according to Variety, saw several bidders, including Neon, attempt to purchase it. (Neon would end up leaving with Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall.) Right now this stands out as the biggest deal made at Cannes this year, although that price tag is in keeping with our assessment that the era of studios dropping $20 million on movies at the festival are over and done with.

The streamer will release the film later this year and will no doubt launch an awards campaign focusing on Moore and Portman.

Everyone Look at “The Idol”

The first two episodes of Sam Levinson’s “The Idol” had its splashy premiere on Monday and reactions were as divisive as expected from the man behind HBO’s “Euphoria.” They range from “a Pornhub-homepage odyssey starring Lily Rose Depp’s areolas and The Weeknd’s greasy rat tail” to “it’s really more like somebody put ‘Black Swan,’ ‘Succession’ and ‘Secretary’ in a blender and let it rip.”

The Sam Levinson-produced melodrama follows a young pop star (Lily-Rose Depp) who falls under the sway of a potentially dangerous nightclub promoter (Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye). The series has already had its fair share of controversy even prior to its premiere. This includes a Rolling Stone report that, following the departure of original director Amy Seimetz, described the set as being in chaos with extensive reshoots. Charges that the show became “an exercise in sexual torture porn” made headlines, even as both HBO and eventually The Weeknd denied that the process was anything more than standard production wrinkles.

When asked about the Rolling Stone report at a Cannes press conference, Levinson responded, “When my wife read me the article, I looked at her and said, ‘I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.’”

Check out TheWrap’s Cannes magazine here and all of our Cannes 2023 coverage here.