Who would have thought that a film festival of Cannes’ stature could ever have productions from online streaming services participating in it? Well, Netflix will have its movies present in the Cannes this year. However, the festival has announced a brand new rule that could prevent Netflix movies from marking their presence in it ever again.
Here is the issue: Movies have traditionally premiered in theaters. Indeed, they have always premiered in theaters. However, Netflix breaks that norm as the movies it funds premier on its streaming service. As can be expected, this can be a point of contention between Netflix and the theaters.
The streaming service has always held to the notion that it is not opposed to launching its movies in theaters as long as they also premier on its streaming service at the same time.
However, this has also kept filmmakers from preventing the launch of their movies on the streaming service. The problem was further compounded when Cannes’ decision to screen two Netflix films, Okja (directed by Bong Joon-ho) and The Meyerowitz Stories(directed by Noah Baumbach) was criticized by the Federation of French Cinemas.
Following that criticism, Cannes has announced a new rule that requires that pictures competing at the film festival will need to commit themselves to distribution in French movie theaters. Combine this with French law that stipulates that films can not be streamed until at least 36 months from their theater screening have passed and we are at an impasse. The streaming company which prides itself on quick release could have agreed to simultaneous release, but 36 months? Nu-uh.
Speaking on the topic, Cannes said:
The Festival de Cannes asked Netflix in vain to accept that these two films could reach the audience of French movie theaters and not only its subscribers. Hence the Festival regrets that no agreement has been reached.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings responded to the statement via a Facebook post:
The establishment closing ranks against us. See Okja on Netflix June 28th. Amazing film that theatre chains want to block us from entering into Cannes film festival competition.