Netflix Officially Pulls Out of Cannes

Brenda Watkins
April 12, 2018

"There's a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival", Sarandos said. They've set the tone.

"We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker", Sarandos said in response to Cannes' ruling that Netflix films can not compete at the festival. (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 made a decision 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..."

Speaking with Variety, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos said Netflix would rather keep their films out of Cannes altogether rather than show them out of competition.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported on April 6 that the giant streaming service had been threatening to withhold films from the festival this year.

As a result, Fremaux made it official last month that Netflix features wouldn't be selected for competition slots.

But following complaints from French filmmakers after Netflix's splashy arrival at last year's Cannes Film Festival, the festival's artistic director Thierry Fremaux flagged that the rules would be changed. Critics say a platform destructive to theatrical moviegoing shouldn't be celebrated at the world's foremost celebration of cinema. Netflix first made a splash at the French film festival previous year with Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories, both of which received rave reviews even when the audience booed the familiar Netflix logo.

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Sarandos said it's time for Cannes to "modernize".

Netflix had planned to take five films to the festival: Jeremy Saulnier's Hold the Dark, Paul Greengrass's Norway, Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, Orson Welles's The Other Side of the Wind, and Morgan Neville's documentary They'll Love Me When I'm Dead, about Welles. In addition, he's not completely ruling out the possibility of a repaired future between Netflix and the festival. Advocates for the streaming service point to the creative freedom Netflix offers to filmmakers and its financial backing of a diverse and ambitious slate of films.

The issue is likely to be one which causes ongoing friction as Netflix makes its presence known in the film distribution business.

That strategy has effectively pushed it to the centre of the global television business, though its multi-territory, day-and-date programming strategy is disruptive to the older, vertical distribution model which most United States studios use. Netflix, sticking to its own model of streaming distribution, isn't budging. "If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that's fine".

Lacking theatrical distribution or massive marketing expenditures, Netflix has depended heavily on film festivals as launch pads for its films.

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