The Palm Springs International Film Festival ratcheted up its squeal factor Thursday morning by adding Kate and Leo to its awards gala.
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are teaming up for the first time since 1997’s “Titanic,” still the top box office moneymaker. Their “Revolutionary Road” is set to open in Los Angeles on Dec. 26. It is a drama about a young couple on the rocks in the 1950s, directed by Winslet’s husband Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”).
The same morning it was announced that Winslet and DiCaprio are nominated for Golden Globe awards as best actor and actress in the motion picture drama category. “Revolutionary Road” was also nominated for best film and director.
The film festival is honoring “Revolutionary Road” for its ensemble cast. Also expected to attend the awards ceremony on Jan. 6 are Kathy Bates, also of “Titanic,” Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour and Zoe Kazan, according to a film festival press release.
This is a return trip for Winslet, who attended the 2007 awards ceremony in support of her film “Little Children.”
The general public typically has limited access to celebrities who attend the film festival’s awards ceremony. It takes place at the Palm Springs Convention Center, which has a main entrance on a side street behind the Wyndham Palm Springs Resort. Last year, most fans were cordoned off at a distance across the street from the red carpet. But in prior years, honorees such as Brad Pitt have broken ranks to greet fans and sign autographs.
“Titanic” made major stars of Winslet and DiCaprio, but they handled their status differently. Winslet has worked steadily, often in low-profile art films, while DiCaprio is seen less frequently, usually in prestige dramas with directors such as Martin Scorsese and Edward Zwick.
Research by industry tracker Movie Marketplace shows that his films do as well or slightly better in the Inland market as nationally.
“The Departed,” a 2006 thriller, earned $183,484 here in its opening weekend, for an impressive average of $7,057 per theater. This year’s rough equivalent to those numbers would be “Pineapple Express.”
Winslet and DiCaprio are only the latest A-listers to be added to an already starry lineup since director Ron Howard and child actor Dakota Fanning were announced in. November. And there are more coming, according to festival chairman Harold Matzner.
“We’re not finished yet,” he said in a phone interview, promising “really big stuff.”
This in a week in which the Kate/Leo press release came 24 hours after an announcement that Clint Eastwood would participate.
Matzner, a businessman and longtime film festival supporter, became chairman this year following the late Earl Greenburg, whom he called a friend. Despite Greenburg’s death in February, Matzner said the festival has stable leadership that has enabled it to grow steadily for the last five or six years.
He called the gala one of the largest awards shows in terms of the press interest it generates, garnering coverage by every nationally syndicated entertainment show.
The 2007 awards ceremony, which featured Sean Penn and Daniel Day Lewis, generated a massive amount of “print and electronic impressions” worldwide, Matzner said. That means stories, photos, video clips and sound bytes.
Media attention, plus sponsorship by “Entertainment Tonight,” Cartier and Mercedes and hosting duties by “ET’s” Mary Hart give the film festival the clout to attract big stars, he said.
More than that, he sees a “positive impact” on Oscar nominations in that such events create the right psychological conditions for winners.
“We bring something to the game,” he said.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival usually announces its lineup, more than 100 movies, in mid- to late-December. Announcements still pending include what the opening film will be.