Cannes: Netflix's First Screening's Technical Malfunction Booed
To loud jeers from the assembled international press corps, the streaming giant struggled to screen Boon Jong Ho's hotly anticipated film 'Okja.'
In an amusing irony, the first press screening for Netflix's competition film Okja was marred by a cinema technology malfunction.
The film appeared misframed on the big screen, which hadn't been masked properly, resulting in the top and the bottom sections of the imge being cut off. The tech problems quickly led to boos from the assembled international press corps. Shortly after the film began, the screening was abruptly suspended.
The technical malfunction lasted approximately 10 minutes before the film was restarted and correctly projected. The crowd both cheered and booed when Netflix's logo re-appeared on the screen.
Some in the crowd could instantly be overheard speculating that it was intentional and a conspiracy to sabotage Netflix.
A Netflix representative declined to comment. A source close to the film said it was actually the curtain that malfunctioned. The festival later in the morning apologized for the snafu.
After the screening, the film earned a brief round of applause from the press in the audience. And, despite the dramatic debut flub, the emerging critical consensus appeared to be largely positive. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw tweeted, "Boog Joon-ho's Okja is a wonderful family action-adventure in the spirit of Roald Dahl, Melissa Mathison and Dodie Smith," while Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson tweeted, "OKJA is great. A spirited, weird, poignant plea for compassion and principle. It's closing moments feel like a benediction. #Cannes2017."
This year's Cannes festival is a landmark moment for Netflix, which has two titles in the competition lineup (Bong Joon Ho’s Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories from Noah Baumbach). Cinema purists have said this sets a dangerous precedent, however, since the films won't be getting a major theatrical release in most markets and instead will be streamed to small screens worldwide.
Festival organizers last week unveiled a new requirement for competition films to have traditional theatrical distribution in French theaters after the French Cinema Federation (FNCF) objected to the inclusion of the two Netflix films in Cannes' official selection. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hit back with a post on Facebook, saying: "The establishment [is] closing ranks against us."