Beyond Cannes: Are Zendaya, Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper Already Packing Their Bags for Venice Film Festival?

Yes, the Cannes Film Festival has only just started. But Hollywood is already quietly planning for the Venice Film Festival lineup, as the unofficial launch of awards season in late August is starting to shape up with several high-profile titles, Variety has learned. Among the films in contention to bow on the Lido: Luca Guadagnino’s sexy tennis comedy “Challengers,” starring Zendaya and Josh O’Connor, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ surrealist science-fiction romance “Poor Things,” with Emma Stone and Marc Ruffalo, among entries believed to be locked-in for a Venice launch.

Zendaya was last in Venice in 2021 with “Dune,” but Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, which has an early November launch date, is not expected to follow suit to the fest.

Though festival chief Alberto Barbera has yet to see several films that are likely to make the cut — such as Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla Presley biopic “Priscilla,” starring Cailee Spaeny as the titular character and Jacob Elordi as her husband, Elvis Presley — other works have already secured a coveted Venice berth. 

Italian director Saverio Costanzo’s “Finalmente L’alba,” which is set at Cinecittà during the 1950s when the famed filmmaking facilities were known as “Hollywood on the Tiber,” features a stellar cast comprising Lily James, Joe Keery, Rachel Sennott and Willem Dafoe, is a sure bet, as is Matteo Garrone’s “Io Capitano,” about the Homeric journey of two young African men who leave Dakar to reach Europe.

Netflix, which is known to regularly have a robust representation on the Lido, could launch Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro,” though it’s uncertain whether Barbera has seen the film yet. The streaming giant will likely have other projects at the festival, too. Another top contender: “Nyad,” the biopic about marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, played by 2017 Venice jury president Annette Bening with Jodie Foster as her coach. “Nyad” marks the first feature film from Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who won an Oscar for the doc “Free Solo.”

Amazon Studios is likely to be Venice-bound with Emerald Fennell’s black comedy “Saltburn,” which has a stellar cast comprising Rosamund Pike, Elordi, Carey Mulligan, Barry Keoghan and Richard E. Grant.

Also strongly tipped are Kenneth Branagh’s “A Haunting in Venice,” with Michelle Yeoh and Branagh reprising his role as Hercule Poirot, Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” with Adam Driver and Penelope Cruz, and Jeymes Samuel’s “The Book of Clarence,” with Omar Sy, LaKeith Stanfield and Benedict Cumberbatch.

As previously announced, Damien Chazelle will preside over the main jury. 

The 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9 

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