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Why We All Really Care About Standing Ovations

Why We All Really Care About Standing Ovations


Remembering the first time one of his films was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, a young filmmaker recalled the length of the audience's standing ovation that seemed to get longer with each story in the media. In the room, he recorded “a six and a half minute standing ovation, [but] by the time I got back to Los Angeles, it had increased to 20 minutes,” he said. “I said, 'Wait a minute, I'm glad I got six. I never even got a two-minute ovation. »

That director was Steven Spielberg. The movie was AND the alien, which closed the 35th Cannes Film Festival in 1982. Even back then, they timed the standing ovations – and argued over how long the festival audience stood applauding. There is a long tradition of using this figure, preferably inflated, as a marketing ploy when rolling out your film.

“The film that received a 15-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival! shouted on a billboard for the Richard Fleischer film Compulsion (1959).

The standing ovations at the world premiere – which gets a perfunctory three to four minutes, which divide into double digits – have become an almost maniacal obsession among festival-goers or, more precisely, the film trades, journalists and online bloggers who follow them. cover. If the duration of ovations was once limited to a handful of extremely long tributes, Guillermo del Toro's 22-minute standing ovation Pan's Labyrinth received at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, or the 20 minutes where the public acclaimed Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 premiere in 2004 – now every high-profile premiere gets its standing ovation timer.

The procedure is widely ridiculed – even by former editors who played an outsized role in promoting the practice at the time – but the standing clock isn't going anywhere. “I hate it because it reduces a movie to a single data point, but it’s a very complex data point,” says an executive at a large U.S. independent distributor. “People remember, 'This film got a 10-minute standing ovation at Cannes.' »

Measuring a standing ovation is not an exact science. When does it begin? When the credits roll or when the house lights come on? When does it end? THR Timing guidelines are to start the clock as people stand up, usually after the house lights come on, and to stop when most people begin to sit down, or when the director of the film receives the microphone, since the crowd stops clapping to listen. Other standards are available. No one syncs their watches, so expect some discrepancies. (With Megalopolis, THR The clock started during the end credits, as attendees were already standing and clapping. Others were waiting for the lights.)

A savvy director or star can distort the final number by exciting the crowd, causing them to stay on their feet longer. Nick Cage, for example, led the audience in chants of “Surf!” Suffer! Surfer ! » during the midnight screening Friday of The surferencouraging them.

And while there are critics and movie buffs among that audience, the big red carpet premieres are also filled with European socialites and celebrity watchers, shady financiers and employees of the companies that made the film that you are looking at. Many of these people aren't applauding the artistic merits of a film, they're celebrating the artists in the room or even the event itself. Movies with big, star-studded actors get longer ovations. Do the same for those with legendary directors. The long-standing O for Megalopolis says less about what Cannes audiences actually thought of the film than about its desire to pay homage to Francis Ford Coppola and his cinematic legacy.

“When people stand up for the ovations at the end, they partly represent how the film made them feel, but they also represent their enthusiasm for the people involved,” David Kajganich, screenwriter and producer of Luca Guadagnino's film. Bones and allsaid THR after this film premieres at the Venice Film Festival in 2022. “For me, it's more about the people than the film.”




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