French Theater Owners Freak Out; Get Netflix Booted From Cannes Film Festival

from the competing-isn't-really-the-French-way dept

Even as Netflix continues to draw top talent to produce original series and movies (while failing to destroy the motion picture industry), it is still being locked out of being considered a “real” filmmaker.

The tentative embrace of streaming services’ offerings comes with caveats: films must be released to theaters as well to be considered for major awards. This makes things considerably tougher for Netflix since it’s faced heavy resistance from theater owners and others who see a lack of release windows as a threat to their existence.

The latest rejection of Netflix’s advances is happening at France’s Cannes Film Festival. Netflix has two films up for consideration for this year’s awards, but according to festival organizers, it will be its last unless something changes. Here’s the festival’s official flip-flop, via David Canfield at Slate:

A rumor has recently spread about a possible exclusion of the Official Selection of Noah Baumbach and Bong Joon-Ho whose films have been largely financed by Netflix. The Festival de Cannes does reiterate that, as announced on April 13th, these two films will be presented in Official Selection and in Competition.

The Festival de Cannes is aware of the anxiety aroused by the absence of the release in theaters of those films in France. The Festival de Cannes asked Netflix in vain to accept that these two films could reach the audience of French movie theaters and not only its subscribers. Hence the Festival regrets that no agreement has been reached.

The issue here appears to be French theater owners, although the statement doesn’t say that in as many words. Instead, the festival delivers a whole lot of words on a platter of subtext.

The Festival is pleased to welcome a new operator which has decided to invest in cinema but wants to reiterate its support to the traditional mode of exhibition of cinema in France and in the world. Consequently, and after consulting its Members of the Board, the Festival de Cannes has decided to adapt its rules to this unseen situation until now: Any film that wishes to compete in Competition at Cannes will have to commit itself to being distributed in French movie theaters. This new measure will apply from the 2018 edition of the Festival International du Film de Cannes onwards.

To translate this, one needs to look at the events leading up to the festival’s sudden reversal. The festival doesn’t want to lose local support, so it has allowed itself to be bullied into a hasty invitation retraction. This report from CBC News is the explicit version of the statement’s implicit wording.

The [Netflix] selections prompted immediate criticism from French exhibitors. In France, the theatrical experience is passionately defended. Films are prohibited from streaming or appearing on subscription video on demand for three years after playing in theatres.

On Tuesday, France’s National Federation of Films Distributors said the Netflix films at Cannes were “endangering a whole ecosystem.”

Must be a pretty fragile ecosystem if a streaming service being considered for an award threatens its stability. And — considering the three-year no-streaming window French citizens are punished with — it’s easy to see why Netflix hasn’t reached an agreement with the locals. It’s also easy to see Netflix will never be able to reach an agreement with French exhibitors. One side has a whole lot of room for compromise, but if it hasn’t done so already during the rise of streaming services, it’s unlikely to start making concessions now.

So, there will be no Palme d’Ors in the Netflix trophy case. And this nation’s creative industries will continue to prop themselves up on insular, isolationist laws, rather than face the rest of the world head-on.

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Comments on “French Theater Owners Freak Out; Get Netflix Booted From Cannes Film Festival”

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42 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Cannes has gone the way of the Academy Awards. If they snub quality, only accept niche films, and routinely fuck over film creators, then they’re useless as a measurement of quality and should be ignored. Cannes awards will mean “this film maker jumped through our hoops” instead of “this is a good film.”

That One Guysays:

Well that's one way to shoot your own foot...

On Tuesday, France’s National Federation of Films Distributors said the Netflix films at Cannes were "endangering a whole ecosystem."

I can’t be the only one who read that as them basically admitting that Netflix’s offerings are so much better than their’s that if they have both in the festival that Netflix will easily steal their thunder and get all the attention, right?

If Netflix can so easily ‘endanger a whole ecosystem’ as they claim then said ‘ecosystem’ is pathetic and deserves to be not just endangered but destroyed. If the only way you can stay afloat is to make sure that there is no competition then the least you can do is admit publicly that the only way you can get people to pay you is by making sure that they have no other options.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Sucks

Because people actually HATE liberty.

No this is not a joke, either. There is no end to the calls from people to use their government to force their religious or social beliefs onto others. Just take HOA’s for example. The idea is that each homes value is more valuable than the rights of the home owner, therefore a homeowner must seek approval from the community to do anything that someone might perceive as lowering the value.

So remember, liberty is about the individual and there are few people that believe it in. Socialism which is about the group as a whole says evil if okay so long as it benefits the group more than it benefits the individual. No matter how well meaning someone or something is… that is the only outcome, as proven by history time and again ad nauseum.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Sucks

I will assume that you are just ignorant instead of trolling and make a response.

The home you choose to live in is voluntary, but whether or not it comes packaged with an HOA is beyond your control, so no… it is not voluntary. It’s about as voluntary as your right to personal privacy when you buy a plane ticket. The purchase of one, requires your complete surrender to the other, because…. is is mandatory.

And, I only provided HOA as an example of proof that people do not care as much about liberty as they “claim”. Not to really get into a pissing match with a sycophant. If you like them, fine… enjoy them. I am just saying that it is a sign of you caring less about liberty and more about control & governance.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sucks

You can buy a home that’s not in a HOA and then at some future date, the people around you vote for it and now you’re forced into it!!! It does happen. So many people like others telling them what to do.

I would never move someplace that was a HOA. When I got my house, one of the first things I did was mount a nice large antenna up on the roof. Most all HOA would stop that. No ugly antenna’s. I don’t see any antenna’s around my neighborhood when I’m on my roof. I look around and I think SUCKERS!!!!!

tonylurkersays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Sucks

“voluntary” can depend upon where in the country you live. In some places it is nigh-impossible to find a house that isn’t part of an HOA.

That being said, there is great variation between HOAs and what they can and cannot prohibit, so there is room to shop around. Additionally, you can do what I did when I was living in an HOA and join the board. Most HOAs are starving for help at the leadership level, making it extremely easy to get elected (for me I literally showed up at the annual meeting and raised my hand when they asked for volunteers to join the board). Don’t like the busy bodies who are running things? Show up at the annual meeting with a dozen polite neighbors interested in “getting involved” and “helping the community” and you’re almost guaranteed to swing the election the way you want it.

Anonymoussays:

What about other films?

it’s easy to see why Netflix hasn’t reached an agreement with the locals. It’s also easy to see Netflix will never be able to reach an agreement with French exhibitors.

Doesn’t this rule out most films, including almost all Hollywood films? I’ve never heard of one with a 3-year release window.

Dirk Belligerentsays:

Forgot France

What Netflix needs to do is make nice with AMERICAN theater chains and get over their insistence on day-and-date release in theaters and online. They need to mimic and improve on Amazon Studios method of releasing film theatrically for full runs before moving the titles to Amazon Prime exclusively as they did with the (overrated) Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea.

MbtS premiered at Sundance in Jan. 2016 and was picked up for limited release in Nov. before going wide in Dec. 2016. Amazon offered it for (paid) streaming in early Feb. 2017 and it released on DVD two weeks later. In May 2017 it landed on Amazon Prime, almost six months after its first theatrical release and 2-1/2 months after home video.

Why doesn’t Netflix compact that timeline and put their AAA movies into theaters exclusively for say four weeks – where all the big money is these days – and then simultaneous physical and streaming releases. When they’re dropping $90M on Will Smith’s next sci-fi flick and $100M on Scorsese’s next joint, why not recoup some coin from those who want the theatrical experience, get eligible for awards, then reward subscribers or those who want the better quality and extras of physical media who wait a month. Being stubborn is dumb for Netflix.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Forgot France

“When they’re dropping $90M on Will Smith’s next sci-fi flick and $100M on Scorsese’s next joint, why not recoup some coin from those who want the theatrical experience, get eligible for awards, then reward subscribers or those who want the better quality and extras of physical media who wait a month.”

Because:

1. Theatrical releasing plus the extra marketing required to make it successful, especially at blockbuster levels, is very expensive.

2. The budgets they’re already spending are funded by their existing business model, they don’t need to add extra complexity and dilute/confuse their marketplace.

3. Awards are nice, but they’re hardly necessary to attract & keep new subscribers for the most part.

4. They’re generally as uninterested in physical media as they are in theatrical releasing. Their core audience consists of people who have moved away from physical media.

5. Artificial windowing is a great way to encourage piracy and it doesn’t reliably net any extra money from people who are already subscribed.

6. You’re talking specifically about America, the French are talking about France, Netflix are thinking about every country on the planet.

Oblatesays:

The tentative embrace of streaming services’ offerings comes with caveats: films must be released to theaters as well to be considered for major awards.

So why doesn’t Netflix just buy a theater? I know it doesn’t quite align with their business model, but it could work. In the space of a traditional theater, set up a dozen ‘large living rooms’ to screen their shows. Free/discounted admission with a Netflix membership, etc. The large studios will sometimes rent one screen for a movie to make it eligible for awards, this should work for Netflix.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

That is how it works in France. The market there is extremely well-regulated and very uncompetitive. Since all the artsy films in Cannes agree to the french release windows, it is a shock for them that Netflix doesn’t.

Keep your eyes on France. A revolution is on the way with or without Macron!

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

‘Films are prohibited from streaming or appearing on subscription video on demand for three years after playing in theatres.’

And even with this sort of power, the cartels are unhappy.

Because we cut a deal to keep theaters happy, all of you who don’t want to sit and listen to kids scream, teens texting, and pay a small fortune for “snacks” need to wait 3 years to see it in the comfort of your home on the platform of your choice.

We’ll cut them out of our award shows to snub them, not understanding that people have other ways to find out about films & winning a cartel award doesn’t make a film that much better than others. Its just an excuse to hand stars products in gifting suites, spend lots of money, get some media coverage, and pretend the golden age of hollywood is still happening & that there aren’t any players on the outside kicking their asses.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Wait, so you’re telling me in France after a movie comes out on the theater, runs for a month, is taken down and no longer being played at the theater, you now have to wait 3 years for the movie to come out on DVD or Blue-Ray or stream it?

Where everywhere else it’s released 3-6 months after it’s done playing in the theaters? Is this really how it is?

The Wanderersays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not DVD/Blu-ray release, necessarily – but yes, what they’re saying is that streaming and subscription-video releases may not be made until three years after the theatrical run.

This is probably specifically to protect the physical-media markets for these movies, as well as the theaters. (If it were just to protect the theaters, there would be no need for the three-year delay, unless the delay is from the start of the theatrical run; a three-days-after-end-of-theatrical-run delay would work just as well.)

Anonymoussays:

‘wants to reiterate its support to the traditional mode of exhibition of cinema in France and in the world’

and this is exactly the whole problem with the entertainment industries! they want to continue in ‘the traditional mode’, say fuck to advances in technology, imaging and sound but still get all monies they can from the new options and opportunities! this control business is hopefully going to ruin the industry and it will become an individuals platform, not Hollywood or similar!

Anonymoussays:

easy cure

We need a new, independent award system that film industry individuals aren’t involved in, and therefore is not subject to their economic whims. Give analysis and awards for films of all kinds. When Hollywood finds out where they fall within the ecosystem as whole, maybe they’ll reduce their “suck” a little.

Christensonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: easy cure

@TAC: Awards and festivals, when not perverted, (not Cannes!) can serve the purpose of content selection — what should I watch/listen to?

However, with all the good content out there, maybe I should start a “filmbook” website…you rate twenty or so films, I’ll figure out who shares your taste, let you know what those folks liked! (Kind of like Amazon with book recommendations).

yankinwaozsays:

The awards are a side show

Isn’t the Cannes Film Festival actually a trade show? Similar to Sundance? The core purpose is for producers to sell their films to distributors? The awards ceremony is just a side show. The whole thing is a match-making meeting.

When Netflix is its own producer and distributor, then it doesn’t need Cannes. The only thing it needs from Cannes is find new content to buy.

In other words, Netflix isn’t at Cannes to SELL their films. So it does make sense that only films being sold should be screened for the awards ceremony.

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