Netflix continues to change the game in the world of cinema, as its release strategy for its films and incorporation in the 2017 Cannes Film Festival has forced the festival representative to change the submission process for upcoming entries. The addendum specifies that "any film that wishes to compete in Competition at Cannes will have to commit itself to being distributed in French movie theaters."
Screening at this year's competition are Netflix's Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories from filmmakers Bong Joon-ho and Noah Baumbach, respectively. With Netflix's business model focusing on releasing their films to streaming services without a guaranteed theatrical run, anxieties were high about these films' inclusion at the prestigious festival.
In a statement released, the festival claims it "asked Netflix in vain to accept that these two films could reach the audience of French movie theaters and not only its subscribers,” but points out that “that no agreement has been reached.”
The current state of the France’s Media Chronology Law prevents any film released in theaters from being available on SVOD services for three years.
With some of Netflix's higher profile releases, it has screened its features in incredibly limited showings in theaters in U.S. markets, typically to achieve necessary criteria to make those titles admissible for film awards.
In response to the festival's statement, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings posted to his Facebook account, “The establishment closing ranks against us. See Okja on Netflix June 28th.
When speaking with Deadline, Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval revealed, “This is a smoke screen, political at its worst. I would love Venice, Berlin, Toronto and Sundance to do the same and there would not be many French films in selection in these countries. That means that an international film festival, the biggest of all, does not recognize a Korean release as a cinema release but tries to impose a French release to every cinematography. This is a colonialist behavior and a shame.” Plans have already been released for
The update to regulations has spawned not just debate about the specific festival, but also larger philosophical discussion about the nature of film and the potential de-legitimizing of the art form in the country in which is was born.
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