Ruben Östlund Teases ‘The Entertainment System Is Down’ With Kirsten Dunst & Daniel Brühl At Cannes Presser: “It’s F–ing Hard To Make A Good Airplane Movie”

“It’s f–ing hard to make a good airplane movie,” Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund emphasized multiple times Saturday morning in Cannes as he spoke to international press about his plans for The Entertainment System Is Down, the latest feature he has set to direct starring a buzzy cast led by Kirsten Dunst and Daniel Brühl.

His follow-up to the Palme d’Or-winning satire Triangle of Sadness, The Entertainment System Is Down is another social satire, this time set on a long-haul flight where the entertainment systems fail, and an eclectic group of international passengers are forced to face the horror of being bored.

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As we reported earlier this week, Östlund and his producer, Erik Hemmendorff, have purchased a real-life Boeing 747 where he told the press today he will mount the production over 70 days on a studio lot.

“We bought the plane and it was quite early in the process of the film. So suddenly it was like, ‘Oh, we have to make this film,” Östlund said at the presser hosted by Sweden’s Film i Väst. Dunst and Brühl joined him.

“Being in a studio for 70 days trying to find the energy and the motivation when you’re in the same environment is going to be tough.”

Digging further into the plot of the pic, Östlund said the film’s jumping-off point is when a man falls asleep beside his wife after the entertainment systems drop.

“His wife is bored so after a while she sees her husband’s phone and decides to unlock it,” Östlund said. “Turns out, she doesn’t know the code, so she uses his face to unlock the phone with face ID. She then finds out he has had multiple affairs with young women. So they’re going to be dealing with that during the flight. It’s an emotional roller coaster.”

Dunst and Brühl will play the doomed married couple. Also set to star are Keanu Reeves and Succession actor Nicholas Hoult.

Brühl told the packed room of journalists that he was first unofficially cast in the film some years ago after he got talking to Östlund at a barbeque he hosted at his home in Majorca. Dunst, however, said she auditioned for the Swede.

“I sent a self-tape,” Dunst said. “I did an improv of the whole phone scenario.”

A Scandinavian journalist later asked Dunst about her history working with filmmakers from the region and whether she saw any similarities between Östlund and her Melancholia director Lars Von Trier. Nervously chuckling, Dunst said she’d politely “pass on the question” before adding: “I always wanna work with people that push the boundaries of cinema.”

Dunst was famously sat next to the often controversial Von Trier in 2018 during the Melancholia press conference in Cannes where the director said he “sympathized” with Hitler. After the comments, Von Trier was declared “persona non grata” by festival organizers. He returned to Cannes in 2018 with The House That Jack Built.

Östlund later told the room that he should be back at Cannes in 2026 where he will debut The Entertainment System Is Down. The project will be Östlund’s second English-language film and seventh feature after The Guitar Mongoloid (2004), Involuntary (2008), Play (2011), Force Majeure (2014), The Square (2017) and Triangle of Sadness (2022). The last two of these won the director the Palme d’Or, meaning he is one of only a handful of filmmakers to have won the Cannes accolade twice.

The film will be a Swedish-German-French co-production, and will reunite the director with his longtime colleagues, producer Hemmendorff of Plattform Produktion and producer Philippe Bober from Paris-based Coproduction Office, which is also handling world sales. The project is being shopped at the Cannes market.

The market ends May 22.

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