The director predicted walkouts within the first five minutes but the premiere elicited a seven-minute ovation.

David Cronenberg was "sure that we will have walkouts within the first five minutes" of his stylish but inscrutable Crimes of the Future, but the folks at Cannes apparently couldn't get enough of his organ-harvesting allegory.

Although the press screening of Crimes — starring Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart, and Léa Seydoux — inspired about 15 walkouts, the official premiere audience was made of sturdier stuff. Only one person ended up walking out for what turned out to be a bathroom break.

Crimes of the Future
Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart in David Cronenberg's 'Crimes of the Future.'
| Credit: NEON

Set in some unspecified future, Crimes finds Mortensen's Saul Tenser, a performance artist, using his body as, well, his body of art. Along with partner in future crime Seydoux, an ex-trauma surgeon, he publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs during avant-garde performances. It's a premise ripe for repulsing viewers — and Cronenberg is absolutely fine with that.

"I do expect walkouts in Cannes, and that's a very special thing," Cronenberg told Deadline. "People always walk out, and the seats notoriously clack as you get up, because the seats fold back and hit the back of the seat. So, you hear clack, clack, clack. Whether they'll be outraged the way they were with Crash, I somehow don't think so. They might be revulsed to the point that they want to leave, but that's not the same as being outraged. However, I have no idea really what's going to happen."

Crash, Cronenberg's ode to deadly auto erotica, famously led to walkouts at the 1996 festival. The times they are a-changed and this year the cinephiles on the French Riviera kept their clacking to a minimum, eventually greeting Crimes of the Future with a seven-and-a-half minute ovation. Cronenberg was, if not surprised, at least touched by the raucous reaction.

"I'm speechless really," the director said. "This is the first time I've seen this movie on a screen this big, with an audience of any kind except Viggo and the cast. I'm very touched by your response. I hope you're not kidding. I hope you mean it. I'll be texting you all to see that you really meant it. Thank you so much, it's wonderful for me to share the film, finally, with actual human beings. It really helps."

Additional reporting by Carita Rizzo

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