Netflix Eyeing Limited French Theatrical Runs for Cannes Competition Titles

'Okja'

"We want to continue to contribute to the development and financing of films,” says a representative for the streaming video giant.

Netflix is looking at a possible limited theatrical run in France for its two Cannes Film Festival competition titles after protests from French exhibitors.

"We are exploring theatrical distribution of these two films in France, for a limited theatrical run, day and date with the films’ release on Netflix," the subscription service said Wednesday.

It added: "We are thrilled to explore any and all options that will give these films an opportunity to be viewed by as large an audience as possible, on a variety of screens, because similar to French exhibitors, we want to continue to contribute to the development and financing of films."

The French National Cinema Federation (FNCF), the lobby for the country’s cinema owners, cried foul, calling on Netflix to screen the two competition entries, the first-ever films the streamer is bringing to the Cannes lineup. The movies are Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories and Okja from Bong Joon-Ho.  

Netflix produced Okja and acquired Meyerowitz Stories just three days before the Cannes lineup announcement, when it was already tipped to be in the official selection. 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Cannes head Thierry Fremaux hinted that Netflix had been looking at a solution for France and would make an announcement.

Under French law, SVOD services like Netflix must wait 36 months after a film’s theatrical release to stream a film. With both movies scheduled to be released on Netflix later this year, even an announcement of theatrical releases may not satisfy the French organization.

The FNCF said that by skipping theatrical distribution, Netflix was undermining the country’s cinema funding system and that without big-screen releases, it “calls into question their nature as a cinematographic work.”

Netflix will be applying for the films to be released under the National Cinema Center's (CNC) temporary visa classification and bills this as a compromise solution to ease the concerns of exhibitors while allowing customers to be able to view the films when they are released to the rest of the world.

The temporary visa will be careful not to trigger the 36-month waiting period allowing the film to be released day-and-date to Netflix subscribers in France.

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