It's Over: Netflix Won't Be Going to Cannes After All

It's Over: Netflix Won't Be Going to Cannes After All”

In an interview with Variety, the company's chief content officer Ted Sarandos said Netflix will not change its release strategy after Cannes insisted competing titles at the festival receive theatrical distribution in France. But we will continue to support all films and all filmmakers.

The question of whether movies produced for Netflix and other streaming services should compete alongside theatrical films at Cannes generated controversy a year ago when festival organizers allowed Netflix to enter two of its films - "Okja" and "The Meyerowitz Stories" - into competition. "Under those rules, we could not release our films day-and-date to the world like we've released almost 100 films over the last couples of years", Sarandos said. (Some Netflix titles have day-and-date releases, but a law in France "requires movies to not appear in home platforms for 36 months after their theatrical release.") "The festival is pleased to welcome a new operator which has chose to invest in cinema, but wants to reiterate its support to the traditional mode of exhibition of cinema in France and in the world", Cannes wrote in a statement, which led to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings remarking that the "establishment [is] closing ranks against us..." But Netflix did not show either film in any French theaters. They've set the tone.

Netflix has long claimed its subscribers would be angry if Netflix Original Movies weren't available on the streaming service at the same time they're in theaters, which I think is a bunch of hogwash. The rule change, actually announced last year, only went into effect for this year's Cannes, taking place in May. As recently as last Saturday, Frémaux told IndieWire that Cannes was still negotiating with Netflix. But the company couldn't get around French media regulations that require a film be kept off streaming services for up to 36 months after a theatrical launch. "That's where I'm a fierce defender of Netflix".

The heated battle between Netflix and the Cannes Film Festival just hit a major crossroads.

Last year, Netflix brought Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories to the Croisette, which led to protests from French cinema owners. "The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours", said Fremaux. "The festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema", he said. We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. Netflix did it for him, with some change they found in the couch. "Thierry had said in his comments when he announced his change that the history of the Internet and the history of Cannes are two different things". We hope that they modernize. "We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back", Sarandos tells Variety. Of course they are two different things. We are 100% about the art of cinema. "If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that's fine".

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