Cannes officially bans Netflix movies from competition

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It didn’t take much time for the screening of Bong Joon Ho‘s “Okja” to create a stir last may at Cannes. Booing happened for the reason we all thought it would: the Netflix logo appearing on the screen. Noah Baumbach‘s Netflix produced “The Meyerowitz Stories” premiered two days later and was booed again. The hate was due to the streaming company refusing to play by the rules of the French movie system, which says that every movie playing competition at Cannes has to be released theatrically. Of course, as we know, Netflix doesn't release its films in movie theaters. It’s an issue that has caused so much controversy in the French movie industry, that Cannes effectively barred Netflix from having any films premiering in competition.


Cannes head Thierry Fremaux hasn't really given his full thoughts on the ban until now, promoting the upcoming festival, which this year will take place from May 7th to the 18th, Fremaux insists that any possible admission for a Netflix-produced film would have to come with a theatrical release:

 “The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours,” Fremaux said.

Netflix, or any streaming service, can still show their films out of competition, but the actual competition? fuggedaboudit. That and today's newly added "selfie ban," have been met with mixed reaction stateside. Over in France, filmmakers and unions were enthused with the Netflix ban as they had heavily protested the inclusions of 'Okja," and "The Meyerowitz Stories" at last year's festival. 

Fremaux goes on to mention his decision last year to include the two aforementioned films in competition as a "risk" he took, and that it was because he didn't want the festival to become "stagnant." Whatever that means. Also, the fact that both films were from well-respected auteurs (Baumbach and Joon-Ho) probably didn't hurt either. Still he admits to his "error" and says that he truly thought Netflix would "bend the rules" and give in by playing both films theatrically:

 “Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in cinemas. I was presumptuous, they refused. We have to take into account the existence of these powerful new players: Amazon, Netflix and maybe soon Apple. Cinema [still] triumphs everywhere even in this golden age of series,” he said. “The history of cinema and the history of the internet are two different things.”

Netflix probably doesn't care about any of this, and, most likely, are having a chuckle or two about it. Truth be told, the average Netflix viewer doesn't really care if a film competed for the Palme D'or. After all, if you look at the numbers, Adam Sandler movies and the critically panned "Bright" are what's racking in the dough for them, not "Okja" or "Mudbound." We know where all of this is heading though, cinema that is, the walls will eventually close in, the algorithms will prevai,l and the definition of "cinema" will be too blurry to decipher . After all, Martin Scorsese's next movie "The Irishman," starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, will premiere on Netflix. The compelte shift is inevitable.