We may very well be moving towards a war being the biggest film festival out there and the leading streaming service. Last year, Netflix had a number of titles at the Cannes Film Festival, and some members of the crowd booed the logo when it came up during premieres. Suffice to say, this did not go over well with anyone. That led to rumors that changes were coming, to either force a more robust theatrical release for those movies, or else to prevent them from getting the full on Cannes treatment. Well, as the 2018 installment of the fest nears, things may be coming to a head.
The Hollywood Reporter details how the streaming giant is threatening to essentially boycott the festival. In short, Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux had announced that Netflix titles were unlikely to screen in competition. With a week to go until the lineup is announced, that threat was hanging in the air. Now, the response from the other side could be the nuclear option. If so, don’t look for the South of France to premiere works like “Hold the Dark” from Jeremy Saulnier, “Norway” from Paul Greengrass, and “The Other Side of the Wind” from the late Orson Welles. In this situation, whoever wins…we lose.
Here’s the relevant section from the report:
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Netflix has threatened not to bring any titles to the world’s largest movie event after festival director Thierry Fremaux said last month that he won’t screen any Netflix films in competition. The situation is said to be fluid, and a final decision won’t be made until Cannes announces its official lineup April 12.
If Netflix carries through on the threat to pull its movies, the move could impact a number of high-profile filmmakers. Netflix titles have figured in the speculation about films that could screen at the festival, although it is not clear which may have been formally submitted. Among them are Paul Greengrass’ Norway; Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark; and Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, the newly completed version of a project the late director filmed in the 1970s.
Netflix declined to comment on its Cannes plans, but such a move would be seen as retaliation for a new rule, first announced after last year’s fest, banning any films from competition that do not have a French theatrical release. Since Netflix titles don’t play French theaters and instead appear directly on the digital service, that rule effectively has barred them from the competition lineup.
It would be a shame if some sort of an agreement can’t be reached. Stay tuned to see how this issue gets resolved, if it does at all…