How Netflix's Absence Could Impact Cannes This Year

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Netflix Chief Creative Officer Ted Sarandos won't be going to Cannes, and neither will any Netflix films.

Fewer stars, smaller parties and less money flowing on the Croisette could be the result as the streaming giant chooses to sit out the world's number one film festival.

It's official: There'll be no Netflix films in Cannes this year.

The streaming giant preemptively pulled all its films from the festival after Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux banned Netflix titles from its official competition.

Here is THR's look at five ways the world's number one film festival will feel the absence of Netflix.

Fewer Great Movies

No Netflix means three of the most hotly anticipated films of 2018 won't be on the Croisette: Roma, the latest from Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men), Paul Greengrass' Norway, a look, from the director of United 93 and The Bourne Supremacy, at the 2011 attacks in which right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered 77 people, and Outlaw King, the Scotland-set period drama starring Chris Pine from director David Mackenzie, who wowed audiences and critics in Cannes two years ago with his neo-Western Hell or High Water.

All were considered Cannes shoo-ins. Hold the Dark, the latest thriller from festival favorite Jeremy Saulnier, whose Green Room and Blue Ruin both premiered in the Directors' Fortnight, was also expected to make the cut, though perhaps not in the Cannes competition. Cineastes and film historians will bemoan the absence of Orson Welles' The Other Side of the Wind, a newly completed version of the film that Welles shot in the '70s (finished with Netflix cash), as well as Morgan Neville's Netflix-backed documentary about the movie: They'll Love Me When I'm Dead.

Fremaux confirmed on Thursday that Cannes wanted the Welles film for an out-of-competition slot and said he asked for another, unnamed, title for the competition (on the condition that the movie get a theatrical release in France) but Netflix turned his team down.

Less Red Carpet Star Power

It might sound trivial when you’re among the world’s finest cinematic auteurs, but nobody does a red carpet quite like Cannes, and it’s the star power attracted to the crimson fibers leading up to the Palais that have helped make this small patch in the south of France the world’s most glamorous film festival. Last year, with competition titles Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories, Netflix was able to serve up a good portion of the flashbulb-popping front-page moments thanks to Tilda Swinton, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Adam Sandler.

"The people at Netflix loved the red carpet," said Fremaux last month. While Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos may well have confirmed this as being true, there’s no denying the festival enjoyed the publicity of having them there as well. That said, the Netflix films many suspect Fremaux had been eyeing this time around aren't exactly bursting with Hollywood A-listers, but had Outlaw King made it, the festival could have welcomed Chris Pine for a historic Star Wars meets Star Trek moment.

Less Cash For Cannes

With the big studios largely giving Cannes a miss (Disney's Solo: A Star Wars Story excepted), Netflix was one of the festival's last big spenders. The streamer spared no expense flying in talent and executives, injecting money into the city in the form of pricey hotel suites, restaurant bookings and lavish parties.

But sources near Netflix tell THR that the company has already canceled most of its hotel reservations and is sending just a skeleton staff. Sarandos has also confirmed that he won't be attending. That is all bad news for the Cannes economy.

Fewer Cannes-Style Blow-Outs

At Cannes in 2017, with no studio titles in the official selection, the festival lacked the sort of classic blow-out party that has everyone on the Croisette desperately trying to flog their grandmas to get past the velvet rope. In fact, it was left to Netflix to provide one of the bigger evening events. The company hired a vast chateau in the hills and bussed up several hundred revelers, including Sarandos, Gyllenhaal, Ben Stiller and Spike Lee.

This year, the onus is going to be on Solo and chums to turn up the fireworks, the Star Wars spinoff looking like the only opportunity for a major Cannes-style bash. And with indies no longer splashing out (especially with the famed Bacchanalian days of Weinstein and Wild Bunch’s parties a distant memory), the pressure on a galaxy far, far away to provide the festival’s one true golden ticket event is all the greater.

Less Dealmaking

Netflix was behind the biggest deal of the Cannes market last year: the $20 million pre-buy of Bubbles, the animated feature co-directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and Mark Gustafson (co-director on Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio). The streamer also did a big multi-territory deal for Robert Pattinson thriller Good Time, taking the Benny and Josh Safdie-helmed heist movie for the U.K., Spain, Australia and Japan, among other countries.

Netflix's Cannes snub could mean fewer deals on the Croisette this year. But the company has already shifted its focus away from festival pickups to more in-house productions — Netflix didn't buy anything at Sundance, Berlin or SXSW this year — so was unlikely to set the 2018 Cannes market alight. But Netflix is still sending its buyers to Cannes — led by acquisitions head Matthew Brodlie.