What was supposed to be a fun publicity stunt ended with Cannes Film Festival guests running screaming, as masked men “stormed” the Hôtel du Cap in Cannes.
It happened on Friday 13th as a group of men arrived at the Hôtel du Cap Eden-Roc in Cannes in a boat, wearing military outfits, with their faces covered and a black flag, somewhat similar to that used by the terror group ISIS, attached to their boat. However, what looked like an ISIS flag actually displayed the publicity company’s logo.
— NoThiefs – NTA•NEWS® (@nothiefs) May 14, 2016
According to a report by the Guardian, the prank was a publicity stunt by the Paris-based Internet start-up Oraxy, but the ill-advised stunt made guests fear they were under attack by terrorists.
The company describes itself on its website as “the world’s first private global marketplace reserved exclusively for UHNWI,” or Ultra High Net Worth Individuals. They certainly scared a few UHNWI along the way.
Publicist JR Savet, a guest at the hotel, told the Hollywood Reporter, “We were caught off guard,” adding that someone screamed and people jumped out of their chairs and started moving quickly towards the swimming pool.
“It was pretty scary. The fact that men appeared to be dressed like an ISIS-like militia group was quite shocking.”
Another witness said there was also a helicopter involved and six men with what looked like suicide vests and a fake ISIS flag pulled up by boat on the water in front of the hotel’s grill restaurant.
The witness said, “Nobody knew if it was a stunt or not. Some people were panic-stricken.”
Reportedly the small boat also buzzed a couple of large luxury yachts out on the water outside the hotel, including those owned by Steven Spielberg, Ronald Perelman and Roman Abramovitch.
The hotel was packed with guests at the time of the stunt and many were terrified as the men arrived.
George Clooney and Julia Roberts are believed to be among the guests at the Hôtel du Cap and reportedly Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, was sitting by the pool as the incident unfolded.
Coming in the wake of the Paris and Brussels terror attacks, the tasteless prank was shocking to many. According to a spokesman for the Cannes hotel, the stunt was “just a bad joke — a really bad one”.
A spokesman for Oraxy told the Hollywood Reporter that the company owners “felt badly” about the stunt, explaining that it was not planned to look like a terrorist attack.
According to a statement by France’s National Police after the incident, “It was not a terrorist attack. It was a communication effort and publicity for an Internet site.”
With the ongoing threat of terror attacks in Europe and the larger number of film makers and A-list film stars in town, the Cannes resort hotel was already on high alert. Reportedly there are hundreds of soldiers, police and security agents deployed in the city to arm against any potential terror attack. However, they obviously didn’t expect anyone to pull a prank like this during the event.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) April 24, 2016
What made matters worse was that the incident occurred on the first Friday the 13th since the Paris terror attacks in November last year which claimed 130 lives and which happened also on a Friday the 13th.
Reportedly the mayor of Cannes was determined to show that a terrorist threat cannot dampen the town’s party spirit, saying, “We have succeeded in preserving the festival atmosphere.”
Reportedly an event went off without incident Friday night when the hotel hosted British filmmaker and brand consultant Charles Finch’s annual dinner with Mick Jagger, Harvey Weinstein and Rebecca Hall attending.
Vanity Fair is set to throw its star-studded party on Saturday night in Cannes as part of the annual event, with no doubt many star-studded guests in attendance.