Halle Berry and Naomi Watts have landed big movie deals during the first full day of the Cannes International Film Festival.

Berry has landed the lead in Luis Prieto's new thriller Kidnap, playing a vengeful mum on the hunt for her abducted son, while Watts is on the verge of signing up to play Matthew MCConaughey's wife in Gus Van Sant's new drama Sea of Trees.

MCConaughey and Van Sant flew to France to promote the project on Thursday (15May14), when the director announced his plan to cast Watts.

Sea of Trees, which will be shot on location in Japan, is one of the biggest titles being offered to distribution companies at Cannes this year.

In the film, Oscar winner MCConaughey will play a suicidal American who travels to Japan to commit suicide only to find a friend who gives him the will to live.

Raving about the story, MCConaughey told reporters, "It's like (reading) a whole bunch of haikus back to back. I got the chills, which doesn't usually happen."