Netflix Won’t Bring Projects to Cannes Film Festival This Year

Netflix Won’t Bring Projects to Cannes Film Festival This Year

Netflix has decided not to world premiere its projects – in or out of competition – at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. That means the streamer’s movies, including writer-director Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe biopic, Blonde, which stars Ana de Armas as the titular actress-model, won’t be playing on the the French Riviera, Variety is reporting.

Dominik recently told journalists at the Berlin Film Festival that he wised his drama would play on the Croisette during the festival’s 75th edition. The filmmaker further noted that he hoped Cannes director Thierry Frémaux would offer the film a world premiere at the festival.

However, that won’t be the case, as Netflix’s discussions have stalled with the festival, which will take place from May 17-28. The streamer was reportedly unwilling to comply with Cannes’ rule that every competing movie must have a theatrical release in France.

Netflix has been receptive to having some of its features that play on the international festival circuit open in European theaters. Scribe-helmer-producer Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-nominated drama, The Hand of God, for instance, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September and subsequently played in Italian cinemas.

But France’s new theatrical-streaming window rule is much stricter. The country is enforcing the rule, which states that after a movie opens in cinemas, Netflix and other streamers have to wait 15 months before launching the project on its service.

The new rule is viewed as a big improvement from the country’s previous 36-month window.

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However, Netflix is still unwilling to wait over a year to release its films digitally after they open in French theaters, even if it means skipping potential Cannes premieres.

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The streamer’s decision not to screen its projects at the festival comes after the company was praised for being the first and only global streamer so far to have signed a financing deal with French movie organizations.

Frémaux, who has a friendly working relationship with Netflix’s co-CEO and CCO, Ted Sarandos, has tried to convince the streamer into returning to the festival out of competition.

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Cannes almost succeeded in 2020 with Spike Lee’s war drama, Da 5 Bloods. However, the plan fell through after the festival decided to forgo its physical edition due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I invited [Netflix’s] films Out of Competition,” Frémaux said last year while discussing the streamer’s decision not to bring its films to Cannes. “Netflix doesn’t want to come to Cannes, but I invited them anyway and alas…It’s not us refusing Netflix movies, it’s Netflix who doesn’t want or can’t…They want to come in Competition but films that are part of the Competition must be released [theatrically] in France.”

Netflix last screened its projects at the festival in 2017, when it brought Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories to the the French Riviera. Cannes then famously changed its rules for competition movies, following an outcry by French exhibitors who demanded that the projects play in local theaters before they head to streaming service.

Cannes and Netflix still hope to find a compromise in the near future that will allow the streamer to showcase its films at the festival. However, both the company and the festival have thrived with their respective strategies.

Netflix has thrived with screening its movies at Venice in the last few years. Besides The Hand of God,the streamer has also found success by bringing writer-director-producer Jane Campion’s Academy Award-nominated Western, The Power of the Dog to the Italian festival.

Cannes, meanwhile, also thrived last year with co-scribe-helmer Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated drama, Drive My Car. The festival also screened co-writer-director Joachim Trier’s Academy Award-nominated dark romantic comedy, The Worst Person in the World.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

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