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Scoreses's The Audition is unveiled alongside Macau Studio City launch
|October 30, 2015 Brad Pitt, Asia, Martin Scorsese|
Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese has teamed up with an elite cast to make a fifteen-minute film entitled 'The Audition', and it was rolled out in Macau with the superstars in tow at a bustling press conference.
Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio were present at the launch, which is part of the huge (and expensive) marketing push for the Studio City casino resort opening. Melco Crown Entertainment are promoting their new $3.2 billion build and leaving no stone unturned as they look to promote the allure of the region that has seen a dip in visits and profits.
Australian billionaire James Packer will be hoping the $70-million-dollar short film will serve as a good incentive for people to start making their way back to Asia's gambling hub as revenues have fallen consistently month on month since 2014. He conceived the idea and bankrolled it in the hopes of reaping the rewards down the line.
As well as the downturn in the Chinese economy which is forcing the avid gamblers to be a bit more wary with their cash, the rise of popular online gaming is also making a dent on their bottom line. With all the money-making potential, games and excitement on offer at a fraction of the price of a trip to Macau, sites like 32Red casino are booming while the bricks-and-mortar industry falls on hard times.
That's why the likes of Melco Crown Entertainment are going to these lengths to promote their expensive ventures; they're trying to revitalise an industry that has been shrinking for 16 months and counting. Should 32Red and the other virtual casinos be worried about the fresh investment, or will we eventually see the demise of the real-world tables in favour of the online ones?
That's a difficult question to answer and it all depends on what moves we see both parties making in the coming months and years. Getting their hands on the biggest names in cinema will certainly promote the right image of prestige for Macau's big guns, but overheads are high - almost as high as the risk involved.
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most revered actors in Hollywood in the last twenty years. With the likes of Wolf of Wall Street, Inception, Shutter Island and many, many more to his credit, it seems he is almost infallible on the big screen. Teaming him up with Robert DeNiro (with whom he has shared credits in the past) was almost guaranteed to work, given DeNiro's forty years in A-List offerings.
DiCaprio said that working alongside DeNiro and under director Scorsese was "a small slice of heaven", saying they are like "fathers in the world of cinema". It's a serious who's who of male leads, with Brad Pitt also making a cameo. The significant investment in monetary terms seems like a 'cash or bust' move from the backers, with no expenses spared.
There have been hints that the 15-minutes we'll get to see from Macau could just be a teaser of something greater to come, with a potential feature length offering possible. $70 million will seem like small change if Scorsese, DeNiro, DiCaprio and Pitt are heading up a full-length version in the bright lights of China's gambling hub, but they're no doubt going to gauge the reaction first before making any more drastic moves into the unknown.
It premiered in the unlikely surroundings of South Korea at the Busan International Film Festival, with the Venice Film Festival losing out prior to that due to some cited "technical problems". Despite the funding from the Studio City casino, all parties were keen to stress that it was a film based on merit and not on money. The protagonists involved are known for their integrity, though you could pick some of the scripts DeNiro signed up to for a pay check in the past ten years.
However, it seems they're dead set on the quality on offer in The Audition; until it reaches the wider audiences it's hard to separate what is marketing speak and what is reality.
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By: Maverine Lane
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