Netflix vs. Cannes Saga Continues
Last year, Netflix experienced difficulties when faced with Cannes Film Festival's restrictions on what happens after a film is premiered. The international event possesses major power and influence on a filmmaker/producer's career and potential with a film. For many of these creators, Netflix has become equally as important for quickly reaching a worldwide audience. Cannes seems to recognise Netflix's growing position in the entertainment world and is doing whatever it can to maintain its status within the content release cycle.
During the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, two Netflix original films premiered, "The Meyerowitz Stories," and "Okja," and was met with disapproval from the film industry. "...reports say there was a chorus of boos from the audience when the Netflix logo appeared on screen. That’s because many players in the traditional film industry see the streaming giant as an unwelcome interloper in their business, if not an outright threat." - Fortune.
The main issue with these films is they didn't follow Cannes Film Festival's stipulation that films must be shown in French cinemas for at least three years before they are digitally distributed. Both titles went straight to Netflix.
For the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, the rules have changed and Netflix decided to pull its titles entirely. "This year, Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s artistic director, imposed a ban on movies competing for the main prizes without a theatrical release. Sarandos called the decision “completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world”. - The Guardian.
Netflix is attempting to force Cannes to change its ways while placing responsibility on the festival's leadership. Ted Sarandos (Chief Content Officer, Netflix) speaks to Variety about Thierry Fremaux's (Artistic Director, Cannes), claiming their hands were tied by the festival.
"...it was not our decision to make. Thierry announced the change in their qualification rules [that] requires a film to have distribution in France to get in, which is completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world. Film festivals are to help films get discovered so they can get distribution. Under those rules, we could not release our films day-and-date to the world like we’ve released nearly 100 films over the last couples of years."
With both sides not showing signs of budging, it seems this debate is only just the beginning.