The festival kicked into overdrive Thursday night with the Elton John biopic, which was directed by Dexter Fletcher.

Rocketman took flight on Thursday night with a world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, drawing an electric four-minute standing ovation for Paramount’s $41 million biopic of Elton John, starring Taron Egerton as the music legend. 

John, Egerton, director Dexter Fletcher and co-stars Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard were all in attendance at the special out-of-competition gala screening inside the Palais’ Grand Theatre Lumiere. John produced the film with partner David Furnish, Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling and David Reid, and the whole team joined in for the festivities. 

During the screening, the audience broke into spontaneous applause during the performances of “Your Song” and “I’m Still Standing.” Following the showing, John and Egerton were moved to tears by the audience and embraced. In an impromptu move, Fletcher grabbed the microphone and thanked the crowd for their response, saying, “We’re absolutely blown away by your fantastic reception.”

The premiere marked a homecoming (of sorts) for John, who has an estate in nearby Nice, some 20 minutes from Cannes. He has spent time in the yellow summer home in a Belle Epoque villa surrounded by the parklands of Mont Boron since the 1990s. As for the film and festival debut, the singer-songwriter hasn’t said much about his past coming to life on the big screen. He did, however, email The Hollywood Reporter about how it felt seeing footage of Egerton in his famous shoes. “I didn’t think it was Taron. I thought it was me. That’s the highest compliment I can tell you,” John wrote.

“There’s really nothing more intimidating than performing in front of Elton,” Egerton, 29, recalled in an interview with THR about having to shoot a scene in front of the 72-year-old icon. Hopes are high for Rocketman, not only for Paramount but for other filmmakers hoping to cash in on rocker biopics in the wake of the $900 million haul (and Oscar gold for Rami Malek) pulled in by last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Rocketman helmer Fletcher was key to that pic’s success, having stepped in to finish production after Bryan Singer was fired. 

Rocketman is set to hit U.S. theaters May 31, and Egerton told THR that he’s “at peace with however much money it makes. But I hope it does really, really well. If it made half of [Bohemian Rhapsody], it would be terrific for my career.”

Following the screening, more than 1,000 guests headed to Carlton Beach for a post-premiere party.

“I trust and I hope that Elton goes, ‘OK, this is not some bullshit,'” Fletcher told THR in a sit-down interview ahead of the premiere. No doubt Fletcher, John, Egerton and the entire Rocketman crew could all feel the love from the Cannes crowd on Thursday night. 

The festival, led by artistic director Thierry Fremaux and president Pierre Lescure, runs through May 25. 

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