Netflix Acquires Worldwide Rights to Cannes Award Winners ‘Atlantics’ and ‘I Lost My Body’

Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to the Grand Prix Winner Atlantics, from first-time director Mati Diop, and Critics’ Week Award winner I Lost My Body, an animated feature, at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Netflix has acquired worldwide rights (excluding China, Benelux, Switzerland, Russia, France) to Atlantics, set along the Atlantic coast in a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleiman, a young construction worker, but she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleiman and his co-workers leave the country by sea, in hopes of a better future. Several days later, a fire ruins Ada’s wedding and a mysterious fever starts to spread. Little does Ada know that Souleiman has returned.

Director Diop is the first black woman to compete for the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Netflix also has acquired worldwide rights (excluding China, Benelux, Turkey, France) to I Lost My Body, a film by Jérémy Clapin that was named the best film of the independent International Critics’ Week section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and was awarded the Nespresso Grand Prize in the section. In the animated film, a cut-off hand escapes from a dissection lab with the goal of getting back to its body. As it scrambles through the pitfalls of Paris, it remembers its life with the young man to whom it was once attached.

Report: Netflix Movies Skipping Cannes Film Festival

Netflix reportedly won’t have any film entries in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival May 14-25 in Cannes, France, despite efforts by the subscription streaming video pioneer and event organizers to hammer out a truce in their ongoing theatrical window feud.

Netflix executives Ted Sarandos and Scott Stuber apparently found no compromise after recently meeting with Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux in Los Angeles regarding the SVOD service’s insistence on streaming its original movies day-and-date with any theatrical release, according to Variety — which cited a source familiar with the situation.

The standoff last year resulted in Netflix bypassing Cannes and submitting original movie Roma to the Venice Film Festival where it won the top Golden Lion award.

While industry politics generate the headlines, Variety reports that Netflix didn’t have a movie ready for the March 11 deadline for official feature length film submissions to the 72nd Cannes Festival.

Fremaux apparently had hopes for Netflix mob movie,The Irishman, from director Martin Scorsese, being submitted to the competition. Regardless, Netflix reps will be at Cannes scouting out indie content to acquire.

Separately, actor Kevin Costner, whose next film, The Highwaymen, begins streaming on Netflix March 29, believes movies should have a theatrical release if possible.

“I think movies are for theaters, and as long as they can stay in them,” Costner said at last week’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

The actor said over-the-top video represents a new way for people to consume movies and distribution channel for the industry to fight over.

“The sand shifting, I haven’t thought about that as much as I’ve thought about the next movie I’m gonna do, or the next story I’m gonna write,” Costner said.

MoviePass Looking to Market Ticket Subscription Technology to Theaters

MoviePass, the beleaguered subscription theatrical ticket service, is looking to market its technology to exhibitors.

Dubbed a “red label” solution, the strategy is to enable theater owners a means of offering a proprietary subscription ticket service to consumers.

In addition to MoviePass, AMC Theatres and Cinemark currently offer monthly ticket subscription plans.

“Our new business strategy is stabilize, optimize and grow,” Khalid Itum, EVP of MoviePass, told Variety, which first reported the move.

MoviePass in August 2017 turned the exhibition service on its ear offering a $9.95 monthly service that enabled subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening.

While the loss-leader pricing concept resonated with millions of consumers, paying for it proved to be a debacle for MoviePass and its corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY).

With the service hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars, it has introduced seesaw measures to rein in costs, alienating consumers in the process.

MoviePass now charges from $9.95 to $24.95  monthly for theatrical access depending on market location. A new unlimited plan is also in the works.

HMNY’s stock has taken a beating on Wall Street, with shares in risk of being delisted for failing to meet the $1-per-share minimum. The corporate parent this week filed papers looking to spin off MoviePass to a subsidiary in hopes of resuscitating the penny stock.

HMNY subsidiary MoviePass Films got a boost this week after its film, Border, was nominated for an Academy Award in the “Best Makeup and Hairstyling” category. Announced last September, MoviePass Films partnered with Neon Rated LLC to co-release the Cannes award-winning film from writer and director Ali Abbasi.

The Swedish fantasy film is based on the short story of the same name by Ajvide Lindqvist from his anthology “Let the Old Dreams Die.” It won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, though it was not nominated.



MoviePass Films Partners with Neon for Indie Releases

MoviePass Films, the production company co-owned by MoviePass parent Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), has partnered with independent distributor Neon for upcoming releases of Sundance award-winner Monsters and Men and Cannes award-winner Border, both of which are anticipated to open in the U.S. in the next few weeks.

Neon, which distributed Oscar-nominated I, Tonya, Three Identical Strangers and Ingrid Goes West, shares equity ownership in Monsters and Border.

HMNY launched MoviePass Films as an ancillary revenue stream – streaming, DVD sales, transactional sales, international rights, retail – from its branded theatrical subscription ticket service.

“The films are high-caliber, prestige titles and are great fits for the MoviePass audience,” MoviePass Films CEO Randall Emmett, said in a statement.

The partnership kicks off with the New York City premiere of Monsters and Men on Sept. 25, ahead of the drama’s New York and Los Angeles opening on Sept. 27. The film will be available in theaters nationwide in mid-October.

Border, which was selected as Sweden’s entry for best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards, took home the top prize in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard category earlier this year.

Fiscally-challenged MoviePass will make the films available to subscribers as bonus movies, which will not count toward monthly in-theater movie allotments. Select subs will also have a chance to attend the film’s red-carpet premieres and receive other special perks throughout the duration of the partnership.

“It’s great to see the different Helios media companies coming together and working towards generating more business for each other,” said Helios CEO Ted Farnsworth.

Farnsworth could use all the synergies he can find. HMNY shares are currently trading at 1.6 cents, with the stock in threat of being delisted by Nasdaq. HMNY has a market cap around $10.5 million.

MoviePass Films’ partnership with Neon follows just-wrapped production on 10 Minutes Gone, starring Bruce Willis. Previously, MoviePass Films produced Gotti, The Row, co-acquired American Animals through MoviePass Ventures, and claims to have a slate of 10 films being prepared for production.



Cannes-Lauded ‘You Were Never Really Here’ Due on Digital July 3, Disc July 17 From Lionsgate

You Were Never Really Here, starring Joaquin Phoenix, will come out on digital July 3 and on Blu-ray (plus digital), DVD and On Demand July 17 from Lionsgate.

Based on Jonathan Ames’s novella of the same name, the Amazon thriller won Best Actor (Phoenix) and Best Screenplay (director Lynne Ramsay) at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Phoenix plays a traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, who tracks down missing girls for a living. The film also stars Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola and Judith Roberts.


Netflix Acquires Cannes Award Winners ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ and ‘Girl’ for North America, Latin America

Netflix has acquired two award winners at the Cannes Film Festival, Happy as Lazzaro and Girl, for North America and Latin America.

Happy as Lazzaro, which premiered in competition, was awarded Best Screenplay for Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, and Girl won the Camera d’Or for best first film for Belgian director Lukas Dhont. Vincent Polster won the Best Actor Prize for Un Certain Regard for his performance in Girl. Girl also was awarded this year’s Queer Palm award, a winner selected from all LGBTQ-themed films across the official selection of the Cannes film festival, Un Certain Regard, Directors’ Fortnight, Critics’ Week and the unofficial ACID section.

Happy as Lazzaro is the tale of a meeting between Lazzaro, a young peasant so good that he is often mistaken for simple-minded, and Tancredi, a young nobleman cursed by his imagination. Life in their isolated pastoral village Inviolata is dominated by the terrible ­Marchesa­ Alfonsina de Luna, the queen of cigarettes. A loyal bond is sealed when Tancredi asks Lazzaro to help him orchestrate his own kidnapping. Rohrwacher also directed Le Meraviglie (The Wonders), winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Girl follows 15-year-old Lara, who is committed to becoming a professional ballerina. Lara’s adolescent frustrations and impatience are heightened as she realizes her body does not bend so easily to the strict discipline because she was born a boy.

It’s Always Sunny at the Beach for MoviePass Owner

NEWS ANALYSIS – Ted Farnsworth, CEO of MoviePass corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), is sounding pretty confident for a guy whose company is trading like a penny stock.

MoviePass, the theatrical ticket subscription service that enables subscribers daily access to a screening for a $9.95 monthly fee, is burning through millions of dollars more than its subs are paying. The company’s auditor warned about its economic future.

But Farnsworth isn’t worried. Like a wannabe “Baghdad Bob,” the executive is holed up at the Cannes Film Festival in sunny South France spinning to anyone who will pay attention.

Apparently, Variety did. Farnsworth told the trade he’s “not worried at all” that investors have sent his stock valuation down nearly 98% in the past six months.

On the contrary, Farnsworth is supremely confident.

“You’re going to see. We’re doing more acquisitions of movies and companies,” he said.

HMNY has now become a buyer and seller of movies, while also dabbling in mergers and acquisitions. In April, it acquired Moviefone, in a deal that largely made Verizon – owner of the ’80s ticketing telecom holdover – a 9% stakeholder in Helios.

Impressive for a company that disclosed last week it had just $15.5 million in available cash operating a business model that was spending $21.7 million every 30 days.

Indeed, Farnsworth – who is on the French Riviera peddling John Travolta-starrer, Gotti, revealed the company has a $300 million line of credit and could sustain itself for another 17 months without additional funding. This mysterious lifeline was never mentioned in the regulatory filing.

In fact, MoviePass Ventures, HMNY’s content acquisition arm, is in Cannes on the prowl. In addition to Gotti, which Lionsgate dropped from its theatrical release slate, Ventures cut its teeth in March acquiring rights to indie crime caper, American Animals, in a partnership with The Orchard.

“We’re going to be selective, but it could be a dozen films a year,” Farnsworth said at the time. “It could be more. When we find a film that we think we could have a big positive type of impact on, we will come up to the table.”

And to Farnsworth, Cannes presents “un grand table” of opportunity.

“It’s going to be substantial,” he said. “People are going to go, ‘Hmm, how did they pull that off.’”

Investors, thus far, seem indifferent. HMNY shares closed May 14 at 68-cents per share.


Ted Sarandos Reiterates Netflix Mandate for Concurrent Streaming/Theatrical Release Strategy

With Netflix not entering original movies in the upcoming Cannes Film Festival due to France’s mandate that all feature films abide by the country’s traditional 36-month theatrical window, CCO Ted Sarandos was asked if this strategy impacts the ability to attract talent and source film content.

Sarandos didn’t think so, adding Netflix released 33 movies in theaters in 2017, day-and-date with their streaming availability.

“I think it’s become more and more accepted as part of the distribution norm,” he said on the April 16 earnings interview. “Defining distribution by what room you see [a movie] in, is not the business we want to be in.”

When asked if such a stance could hinder talent being considered for industry awards such as the Oscars, Sarandos said Netflix titles have been nominated for industry awards in the past.

“Keep in mind, we had five projects nominated for the Oscars last year – all released in this model,” he said.

The executive said Netflix’s global distribution model has benefited original series in Germany (“Dark”), Denmark (“Rain”), and Brazil (“Coisa Mais Linda”) by giving local content creators a wider audience, including in the U.S.

“There [are] incredible storytellers and producers around the world that just have not had access to a global audience before, and we’ve been able to find them pretty effectively,” Sarandos said.

He said Netflix would continue empowering content creators with a “great place to work,” and trusting their choices and offering global distribution.

Netflix will soon launch “The Umbrella Academy,” an original series about a family of dysfunctional superheroes, based on the eponymous comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics.

“At the end of the day, I think the winners will be those who pick up their shows that people can’t live without, and they become associated with that kind of intense fandom that we can keep bringing to them day in and day out,” Sarandos said.


Netflix Skipping Cannes Film Festival

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.”



French Warming to Netflix

France’s calculated indifference to Netflix appears to be waning.

The subscription streaming video pioneer reportedly is approaching 3.4 million subscribers – adding about 100,000 subs monthly since the beginning of the year, according to newspaper Liberation.

The tally is nearly double the 2 – 2.5 million subs often associated with Netflix’s French presence since launching there in 2014. Indeed, SVOD rivals Orange (2.9 million), OCS (3 million) and beIN (3.3 million) trail Netflix in subscribers. Only Canal+ tops with 4.9 million subs.

The subscriber increase comes less than a year after CEO Reed Hastings was on the defensive after French theater operators blasted the SVOD service for two Netflix Cannes Film Festival movie submissions (Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories”) debuting online  without a significant theatrical presence.

Hastings said Netflix would increase by 40% original French content in 2018, on top of “Marseille,” and “Osmosis,” among others. French law mandates 40% of content on radio, TV and theatrical must be of French origin.

Netflix just inked a direct-access agreement with telecom Altice France.

“Offering only American series will not work,” Pascal Rogard, director of France’s Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers, said upon Netflix’s arrival.

The company releases first-quarter (ended March 31) results April 16.