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In advance of festival director Thierry Fremaux’s announcement of the official lineup of films that will screen at the upcoming fest, which will be unveiled Thursday, the streaming giant has made it known that it won’t be bringing any movies to the event. Fremaux had already said that Netflix films, because they do not get theatrical releases in France, would not be considered for competition slots, which are considered the most prestigious screening slots at the fest.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported last Friday that the streaming giant had been threatening to withhold films from the festival this year.
Last year, Netflix toasted the 70th anniversary of the fest with a lavish bash at the Villa Saint George, hosted by Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, and it was represented on the red carpet with the premieres of Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) and Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, which played as competition titles.
But Cannes’ decision to include the Netflix features stirred up controversy, particularly in France, where the law, designed to protect motion picture theaters, says films may not appear on streaming services for 36 months after they play theatrically. While Netflix has booked pics like Mudbound and Meyerowitz Stories into limited theatrical runs in the U.S., day-and-date with their streaming debuts, its films have sidestepped theaters in France.
Speaking at last year’s festival, Sarandos addressed the brewing controversy, saying, “Everything about the way we consume entertainment has been changed by the internet except the first window for theatrical,” noting that waiting 36 months between a theatrical release and an SVOD bow was “too long” and that Netflix wouldn’t release its movies in France in theaters until the law changes.
But then Fremaux made it official last month that Netflix features wouldn’t be selected for competition slots. In response, Netflix, which had several films that were considered likely candidates for Cannes debuts, has retaliated by saying it won’t bring any movies to the festival this year.
Although the final lineup has not yet been announced, Netflix features that were considered to be in the mix for possible Cannes dates included Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma; Paul Greengrass‘ Norway; Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark; Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, a newly completed version of the film that Welles shot in the 1970s; and Morgan Neville’s They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, a doc about the Welles film.
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