Venice 2024: ‘Joker 2,’ Angelina Jolie’s ‘Maria,’ ‘Queer’ Starring Daniel Craig and Johnny Depp-Directed ‘Modì’ Eyed for Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

Venice lineup
Courtesy Todd Phillips on Instagram/Pablo Larraín/Getty Images

The upcoming Venice Film Festival is shaping up to be a star-studded affair with Lady Gaga, Joaquin Phoenix, Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Gal Gadot and Ana de Armas among top Hollywood talents likely to be launching high-profile titles from the Lido.

Though festival chief Alberto Barbera has yet to see several submitted works that are likely to make the cut, a clutch of globally buzzy movies have already secured a coveted Venice berth, though some of the more mainstream entries will probably be bowing out-of-competition.

“Joker 2: Folie à Deux,” Todd Phillips’ edgy musical sequel to his 2019 Golden Lion prizewinning “Joker,” starring Gaga and Phoenix, is a competition shoo-in, along with Pablo Larraín’s Maria Callas biopic “Maria,” starring Jolie in the title role.

Larraín’s previous two tragic female biopics — “Spencer” starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana and “Jackie” with Natalie Portman as Kennedy Onassis — both launched from the Lido.

Also believed to be locked into a Venice competition berth is Luca Guadagnino’s William S. Burroughs adaptation “Queer,” in which Daniel Craig plays the renowned counterculture author’s alter ego, an outcast American expat who lives in Mexico and is fighting a heroin addiction. “Outer Banks” star Drew Starkey also stars as a younger man with whom the expat becomes madly infatuated.

Last year, Guadagnino’s tennis love triangle movie “Challengers” had been set to open Venice out-of-competition, before being pulled from the festival due to promotional complications prompted by the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Also in the mix are Jon Watts-directed action comedy “Wolfs,” pairing Clooney and Pitt as two lone-wolf fixers forced to work together in covering up a high-profile crime, and Ron Howard’s survival thriller “Eden” starring Jude Law, Ana de Armas, Sydney Sweeney, Vanessa Kirby and Daniel Brühl. But both of these titles will probably end up outside the competition rather than vie for the Golden Lion.

Julian Schnabel’s crime mystery “In the Hand of Dante” – which is strongly tipped for a Lido competition berth – features a star-studded cast comprising Gal Gadot, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Gerard Butler, Al Pacino and Martin Scorsese playing an elderly sage who influences Dante Alighieri while he is writing “The Divine Comedy.” “Dante” is based on the eponymous book by Nick Tosches, which revolves around a handwritten manuscript of Dante Alighieri’s poem “The Divine Comedy” that is found in the Vatican library. The poem makes its way from a priest to a mob boss in New York City.

Johnny Depp could also now be returning to Venice after making a Cannes comeback last year for his performance as King Louis XV in “Jeanne Du Barry.” This time, Depp would be on the lineup as the director of “Modì,” his biopic of Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani starring Italy’s Riccardo Scamarcio as the bad boy painter and sculptor, who worked mainly in France and became famous for the groundbreaking modern style of his portraits and nudes. Al Pacino plays international art collector Maurice Gangnat.

It will be interesting to see if Depp’s sophomore directorial effort, more than 25 years after his critically and commercially derided 1997 neo-Western “The Brave” — in which he starred alongside Marlon Brando — makes the Venice cut, and if so, in what section. Also in question is whether this will help further reboot Depp’s career in the wake of his highly publicized defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard.

Meanwhile, the rich roster of international films strongly tipped for Venice includes Mike Leigh’s “Hard Truths” and Walter Salles’ “I’m Still Here.”

While the Cannes Film Festival is gaining ground in premiering movies that thrive during awards season, Venice remains the top destination for streamers and studios aiming to build Oscar campaigns.

As previously announced, Isabelle Huppert will preside over the jury.

The 81st edition of the Venice Film Festival will run Aug. 28-Sept. 7.

Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report

From Variety US