Netflix pulls out of Cannes Film Festival following competition ban

Netflix pulls out of Cannes Film Festival following competition ban

Netflix, which was a major presence at last year's Cannes Film Festival, will be a no-show at this year's edition of the fest, which kicks off May 8.

Sarandos criticized Cannes artistic director Frémaux's decision to only allow films with French distribution to compete at the festival, calling it "completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world".

Instead of simply allowing its films to play out of competition at the prestigious fest, Netflix is picking up its ball and going home.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported on April 6 that the giant streaming service had been threatening to withhold films from the festival this year.

Netflix movies can still show out of competition, but in an interview with Variety, the company's peeved chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the streaming service is sitting the festival out in 2018.


Though Sarandos will not be attending the festival, he said that Netflix will have executives on the ground to potentially acquire films without distribution. "Under those rules, we could not release our films day-and-date to the world like we've released almost 100 films over the last couples of years", Sarandos said.

As a result, 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 films to the festival. "But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours", said Fremaux. But we will continue to support all films and all filmmakers.

The prestigious festival made the rule change following a protest from their native theater owners, who hit the ceiling previous year when Netflix strutted titles like Tilda Swinton's "Okja" in the main competition. "We'll defend the image of a risk-prone festival, questioning the cinema, and we must be at the table every year". They either paid the money to go see the film in the theaters, or they waited a few months and watched it on the streaming service. They've set the tone. "Thierry had said in his comments when he announced his change that the history of the Internet and the history of Cannes are two different things. I don't think it would be good for us to be there". The decision was a long time coming, after Cannes established a rule that forbade films without a theatrical distribution plan from its competition. "The festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema", he said.

Sarandos remains hopeful that Cannes organizers will embrace the future and "change the rules". We hope that they modernize. "We are 100 per cent about the art of cinema. We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back", Sarandos tells Variety.

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