Have you heard the buzz surrounding Martin Scorsese’s latest film? It’s in the tradition of “Casino,” stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, and was reportedly filmed with a $70 million budget?
“Rush Hour” filmmaker Brett Ratner produced, “Wolf of Wall Street” writer Terrence Winter penned the script, and the stars just got together for a red carpet premiere. But before you go online to buy your tickets, there is one small problem: It will never, ever play at a theater near you; in fact, you may never see it.
That’s because the film, a 15-minute epic called “The Audition,” is actually a commercial for a Chinese casino.
For decades, stars have gone overseas and filmed often incomprehensible-to-American-audiences commercials. But even after films from “Mr. Baseball” to “Lost in Translation” have joked about the easy paychecks, Hollywood’s biggest stars still aren’t above cashing them. And wow, if the rumors are correct, Scorsese’s actors cashed some big ones.
According to Page 6, the three stars spent two days filming — and earned $13 million apiece. Pitt, who only appears in the last three minutes of the film, even interrupted his honeymoon with Angelina Jolie for the payday.
As for the plot, it actually sounds pretty entertaining. “The Audition” features De Niro and DiCaprio as themselves, playing off their reputations as Scorsese muses, competing for a role in the legendary filmmaker’s next movie.
On Tuesday (Oct. 27), The Studio City casino in Macau, China opened its doors for the first time with a red carpet event that had Scorsese, De Niro and Dicaprio in attendance (Pitt reportedly had a prior commitment). The resort’s 5000-seat theater showed the movie, which had previously debuted at South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival and has also been screening in Hong Kong alongside traditional films as a “bonus” movie.
“The way I think about it is — our company, Australia Crown, is paying for half of it, and Lawrence’s company is paying for the other half of it,” Australian magnate James Packer, who is producing the film and bankrolling it alongside Chinese gaming mogul Lawrence Ho, tells The Los Angeles Times. “And so if the numbers that are quoted are right, and it’s over three years, and you divide that by two, it’s 11 bucks a year. For the best marketing campaign in the history of the world. So it depends on how you allocate and look at it.“
A trailer for the movie featured alluring shots of the casino and a spinning camera fixated on Scorsese, DiCaprio, De Niro and Pitt eating dinner together over a Frank Sinatra soundtrack. “It’s where glamour meets excitement, and where the stars come to play,” the voiceover is translated as saying. “This is entertainment.”
“The premise of this competition was very humorous for both of us,” DiCaprio says of the film’s plot. “Because we’ve both done a lot of films with Mr. Scorsese, so what would it be like if we both showed up at this casino competing for the same role but we didn’t know it yet.”
“For me, the great joy was finally getting to be on set with both of these guys,” he adds. “[Scorsese and De Niro] is the greatest relationship in cinema history in my opinion.”