Streaming service and studio giant Netflix has said “au revoir” to Cannes Film Festival following a rule change the famed cinematic event announced in 2017. Specifically, films without theatrical releases in France are banned from being included in competition at the festival.
The rule was bent in 2017 for Netflix’s films Ojka and The Meyerowitz Stories, even though there was opposition from other entries that it wasn’t fair.
Chief content officer for Netflix Ted Sarandos said in an exclusive interview with Variety that the festival sent a very clear message, and that the company would not be attending the 2018 festival.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
Variety: Are you deciding not to participate in Cannes this year?
Sarandos: Well, it was not our decision to make. Thierry announced the change in their qualification rules [that] requires a film to have distribution in France to get in, which is completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world. Film festivals are to help films get discovered so they can get distribution. Under those rules, we could not release our films day-and-date to the world like we’ve released nearly 100 films over the last couples of years. And if we did that, we’d have to hold back that film from French subscribers for three years under French law. Therefore, our films they are not qualified for the Cannes Film Festival competition.
Variety: And you aren’t taking movies to the festival out of competition?
Sarandos: No. I don’t think there would be any reason to go out of competition. The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule.
It’s not surprising really that Netflix would chose to honor the Cannes rules, but don’t be surprised if the streaming service picks up a film or two from this year’s competition.
The 71st Festival de Cannes will take place May 8th to May 19th, 2018.