CANNES, France - The Cannes Film Festival was to slip into high gear on Thursday by screening a new "Mad Max" film and firing the starter's gun on its competition for the Palme d'Or prize.
The second day of the 12-day event on the Riviera promised greater star power than the opening day, when a French social drama starring Catherine Deneuve, "Standing Tall", was shown out of the competition.
Deneuve, Naomi Watts, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman provided the red carpet glamour.
The stars of "Mad Max: Fury Road", Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, were to lead the celebrity phalanx on Thursday. Theron's boyfriend Sean Penn was staying with her in a luxury hotel outside Cannes and was thought would also appear alongside her.
"Fury Road" is the fourth outing for Mad Max into a dystopian future desert world, and the first with Hardy, 37, taking over the title role that shot Mel Gibson, now 59, to global fame three decades ago.
It is not vying for the Palme, but instead provides a jolt of needed blockbuster entertainment to the festival, which offers mainly arthouse film fare.
While the "Mad Max" movie will grab wide attention on Thursday -- which coincides with its worldwide release -- the more serious Cannes film competition will be launched in earnest.
Two of the 19 movies in that race, an Italian mix of fables shot in English called "The Tale of Tales" and a Japanese family drama based on a manga titled "Our Little Sister", will be shown.