U2 goes 3D and rocks Cannes

CANNES, France Sun May 20, 2007 8:30am EDT

1 of 3. Bono of U2 performs a concert during arrivals for the gala screening of Irish director Catherine Owens and director Mark Pellington's film 'U2 3D' at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, May 19, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

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CANNES, France (Reuters) - Irish band U2 rocked the Cannes Film Festival early on Sunday with a short live set on the famous red carpet on their way into the main cinema for the premiere of a new film "U2 3D".

One of the world's biggest rock acts, U2's gig attracted hundreds of fans who crammed around the VIP entrance to the Grand Theatre Lumiere to hear Bono belt out "Vertigo" and "Where the Streets Have No Name".

Several actors from another film showing in Cannes, among them Spain's Javier Bardem, waited patiently with the crowds to dance to the music.

The performance helped set this year's festival alight after a subdued start, and underlined the importance music has played in Cannes this year.

Minutes before, just along the palm-lined Croisette waterfront, Finland's monster rock act Lordi performed "Who's Your Daddy?" and "They Only Come Out at Night" at a special party.

The makers of "U2 3D" say it is a pioneering recreation of a live concert.

Shot in South America during the band's "Vertigo" tour, it seeks to recreate the atmosphere of a gig and take fans on a thrilling visual ride.

The film combines camera angles that soar over the audience of up to 80,000, zoom in to within inches of the performers, join them on stage and look back into the stadium.

At one point, U2's lead singer Bono reaches out towards the 3D camera and looks as if he is about to step into the cinema.

Journalists at a preview screening of a 55-minute version of what will eventually be an 80-90 minute picture, were given glasses through which to view the film and were impressed with the authenticity of the images and sound.

The film's backers say "U2 3D" is part of a revolution in the industry leading to more 3D productions and ever more elaborate techniques.

"Not every film will benefit, in my opinion, from 3D technology," said executive producer Sandy Climan.

"I think when you have the choice of 3D and 2D, you will choose 3D overwhelmingly," he told a news conference. "You ain't seen nothing yet."

The band had been due to appear before the press on Saturday, but their plane was delayed.

Producer John Modell described the technology used in "U2 3D" as a sea change from what came before.

"We are replicating the physiology of sight, and that's a very tricky thing to do," Modell said. "If you get it off by just a hair it creates actual physical problems -- eye strain, nausea. We don't have that at all."

One possible limit on the film's box office prospects is the limited number of appropriate 3D cinemas around the world, although Climan said he expected the number to grow rapidly in the United States and elsewhere.

The digital 3D film is expected to be released internationally in around 1,000 theatres equipped with digital projection systems. It will be shown only in 3D.

"U2 3D" is one of several rock-related pictures at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

"Control", a biopic about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, has been widely praised by critics.

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