Netflix turns its back on Cannes

Row descends in to tit-for-tat tactics ahead of launch

by Richard Mowe

In a blatant piece of tit-for-tat skirmishing, the streaming giant Netflix has decided that it will not offer any of its titles to the Cannes Film Festival whose media programme launch takes place in Paris tomorrow (Thursday 12 April).

The festival’s director Thierry Frémaux, under pressure from French cinema owners, had already stipulated that Netflix titles would not be invited to be part of the Competition because they would not have a cinema release in France.

The trade publication Hollywood Reporter which originally broke the story about the threat of titles being withheld from this year’s Festival, reported tonight that Netflix as a result of being banned from the Competition, had taken a decision not to bring any titles this year.

Last year the Festival gave Competition slots to Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) and Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, which gave rise to the protest by the cinema owners’ association.

The law in France regarding TV exposure on any platform, including streaming and the cinema release, is particularly stringent, stipulating that titles cannot play on streaming media until 36 months after the showings in theatres.

Netflix has countered the situation by saying that the window is too long and that they will not allow their titles to show in French cinemas until the law is changed.

As previously suggested by the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix features that were considered to be in contention for possible Cannes dates included Alfonso Cuaron's Roma; Paul Greengrass' Norway; Jeremy Saulnier's Hold the Dark; Orson Welles' The Other Side Of The Wind, a newly completed version of the film that Welles shot in the Seventies; and Morgan Neville's They'll Love Me When I'm Dead, a documentary about the Welles film.

Last year Netflix used the 70th anniversary edition of the Festival to raise its profile with a glitzy soirée in honour of the red carpet premières of The Meyerowitz Stories and Okja.

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