April 11, 2018
Netflix won’t have an official presence at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival May 8-19 in southern France.
The SVOD behemoth is skipping the marquee film festival after organizers mandated all film submissions must follow France’s strict 36-month theatrical window .
Netflix, which has been making inroads with French consumers after a sluggish start, prefers making all original content – including feature-length films – available globally day-and-date with any theatrical screenings.
At last year’s competition, Netflix entered Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories – angering local exhibitors unwilling to screen the titles concurrent with their global digital launch. Other original movies include Mudbound and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father.
While Netflix isn’t entering any films this year, and CCO Ted Sarandos said he would not be attending Cannes, other executives from the SVOD pioneer will be attending.
“We loved the festival,” Sarandos told Variety. “We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. It’s just that the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema. We are 100% about the art of cinema. And by the way, every other festival in the world is too.”
Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux April 12 said Netflix was always welcome to the film festival. Indeed, the service had planned to screen Orson Welles’s unfinished 1970s film, The Other Side of Wind in an out-of-competition slot.
Welles, whose seminal film, Citizen Kane is considered one of the best movies of all-time, is a Palme d’Or winner and once headed the festival’s jury. Welles died in 1985.
“We regret it because it was a lovely gesture of cinema undertaken by Netflix and now they block it,” Fremaux said at an April 12 press event announcing the Cannes film line-up. “It would have been a nice … but they didn’t want to do it. The debate is still open.”