Martin Scorsese short 'The Audition' starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro pulled from Venice Film Festival
No major international film festival is worth its mainstream U.S. media salt unless there's at least one screening featuring the latest work of a major Hollywood name. The Venice Film Festival is surely no exception, especially as it's the year's final internationally renowned European movie fest, held shortly before the fall – i.e., awards – movie season begins. Well, one work by a top Hollywood name will no longer be available at Venice: The Audition, a short film directed by and featuring veteran Martin Scorsese, has been pulled out.
"We have just been informed by the production that due to unexpected technical problems the film could not be here in time," festival organizers said in a statement earlier today, Sat., Aug. 29, '15. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a “representative” of the 17-minute film affirmed that The Audition is still in the post-production stages and for that reason it would not be ready for Venice.
Besides Scorsese, The Audition also features the director's current muse, Leonardo DiCaprio, and his past muse, Robert De Niro, in addition to cameos by Brad Pitt and Brokeback Mountain and Broken Embraces cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
From 'Casino' to casino ad
Now, The Audition is no mere short movie featuring iconic Hollywood names. Written by Terence Winter, whose credits include the TV series The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, it is budgeted at a rumored $70 million. Why so expensive? Does The Audition feature a diplodocus applying for a gig in the upcoming Jurassic World sequel?
Hardly. Martin Scorsese's movie is supposed to be an ad promoting the launch of Melco-Crown's $2.3 billion Macau Studio City, in addition to the Manila City of Dreams resorts and casinos. So, what's $70 million when you've already spent more than the gross national product of several small countries combined?
In all fairness: considering that the source for the $70 million budget is an online tabloid, that info should be taken with a humongous grain of salt. But then again, if Marlon Brando can (reportedly) earn $3.7 million (approx. $15 million today) to show up for 13 days on the Superman (1978) set, why can't Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro be paid (a rumored) $13 million for two days' work?
Is an ad still an ad by any other name?
And here's another question: Why would the Venice Film Festival showcase a commercial, even if directed by the Boxcar Bertha and After Hours filmmaker?
Well, as per Venice director Alberto Barbera, The Audition is “a Scorsese film, not a commercial. The casino paid for the film, but it's not in the film at all.”
A $2.3 billion investment and a commercial that isn't a commercial? Go figure.*
Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro
Prior to The Audition, the Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro collaborations were:
- Mean Streets (1973), starring Harvey Keitel as a New York City hoodlum.
- Taxi Driver (1976), with De Niro as the titular vigilante. Also in the cast: Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, and Albert Brooks.
- New York New York (1977), a musical that bombed at the box office. Liza Minnelli was De Niro's leading lady in a story supposedly inspired by Doris Day's early show business experiences.
- Raging Bull (1980), a boxing drama that earned De Niro the Best Actor Academy Award. Also in the cast: Cathy Moriarty and Joe Pesci.
- The King of Comedy (1983), a box office flop that has acquired a following in the last couple of decades or so. Jerry Lewis co-stars.
- Goodfellas (1990), a gangster drama starring Ray Liotta, with De Niro and Joe Pesci in supporting roles.
- Cape Fear (1991), which earned De Niro his sixth Oscar nomination. This remake of Robert Mulligan's 1962 thriller starred De Niro, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lange in the roles previously played by Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, and Polly Bergen.
- Casino (1995), another crime drama, which earned Sharon Stone a Best Actress Oscar nod.
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio
Apart from the Meet the Parents movies, Robert De Niro isn't the box office draw he once – kinda – was. In the last dozen years, Scorsese has hooked up professionally with Titanic heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio. Here are their movies:
- Gangs of New York (2002), with DiCaprio as Daniel Day-Lewis' surrogate son in a very Third World-ish, mid-19th century New York City.
- The Aviator (2004), with Best Actor Oscar nominee DiCaprio as eccentric mogul Howard Hughes and Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn.
- The Departed (2006), the year's Best Picture and Best Director Oscar winner. In the cast: Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Vera Farmiga, Mark Wahlberg, and Martin Sheen.
- Shutter Island (2010), a mystery thriller also featuring Mark Ruffalo, Emily Mortimer, and Michelle Williams.
- The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), which earned DiCaprio his fourth Oscar nomination. (Besides The Aviator, the other two were as Best Supporting Actor for What's Eating Gilbert Grape and as Best Actor for Blood Diamond.) The Audition screenwriter Terence Winter also received a nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street.
Venice can wait
There will be no The Audition at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, but who knows, maybe Martin Scorsese will show up next year.
As an aside, festival organizers have confirmed that Heaven Can Wait will be screened on Mon., Sept. 7. No, Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, and Dyan Cannon won't be around for the screening. After all, Venice will be presenting the 1943 Heaven Can Wait, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and featuring Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Laird Cregar, Charles Coburn, Marjorie Main, and Signe Hasso.
And in case you're wondering, Beatty's 1978 Heaven Can Wait is not a remake of the Lubitsch film. Instead, it's a remake of Alexander Hall's Here Comes Mr. Jordan, a 1941 Columbia release toplining Robert Montgomery, Evelyn Keyes, Claude Rains, James Gleason, and Rita Johnson.
The 2015 Venice Film Festival runs Sept. 2–12.
* A typo had The Audition costing $2.3 billion. Inflationary pressures notwithstanding, that was obviously not the case.
Venice Film Festival official website.
Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Martin Scorsese The Audition images: Melco-Crown Entertainment / RatPac Entertainment.