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Netflix to boycott Cannes Film Festival 2018?

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CANNES: Netflix is known to do things differently. While almost everyone trips over every hurdle to get into the Cannes Film Festival, the world’s largest streamer is mulling over giving it a miss this year.

The reason: festival director Thierry Fremaux’s announcement last month that he would not open the doors to any producer to enter the Cannes official competition selection if the film does not have a theatrical release in France.  It had enforced the stricter regulations in 2017 and Fremaux reaffirmed that the regulations would stay last month.

And that seems to have got the Netflix management, led by Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, agitated as one of the world’s largest creators of content releases most of its films on its over the top (OTT) platform for consumption by its 117 million paid users.

The film festival’s team, however, has allowed studios, without a French release for a film, to submit it for screening but not take part in the Palm D'Or competition.

French law forbids films released theatrically in France to be shown online until a three-year window since the first exhibition is crossed; which does not make for a good business model for Hastings, as subscribers pay anywhere between $9 and $14 for a Netflix subscription, depending on whether pricing plan is basic or premium. And the streaming service is not about to change its biz model for the festival. Last year the Cannes Film Festival competition jury president Pedro Almodovar had raised a stink that having a film win the Palm D'Or without a theatrical release was unthinkable. French theatrical exhibitors have been fuming that Netflix films are not being released in their cinemas, thus cutting them out of potential revenues. 

Hastings and Sarandos were not available for comment at the time of writing. But Reed unequivocally had stated at the time when the rules were announced last year by the festival that the “establishment” was "closing ranks" on his company.

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