Netflix Bows Out Of Cannes After Festival Tells Streaming Services To Get Off Its Lawn

from the relics-of-a-bygone-era dept

Last month, the folks running the Cannes film festival had a little toddler moment, when they declared that streaming services like Netflix wouldn’t be allowed to win the Palme d?Or. More specifically, Cannes boss Thierry Fremaux stated that streaming services wouldn’t be allowed to win any awards if they didn’t adhere to outdated French film industry release windows. Such windows are increasingly archaic, but the release windows required by France’s cultural exception law are particularly obnoxious, requiring a 36-month delay between theatrical release and streaming availability.

Cannes couldn’t just come out and admit it was having a “damn kids get the hell off my lawn moment,” so it tried to peddle a bunch of nonsense about how this was all about ensuring high festival standards. That, of course, ignores the fact that while Netflix pushes a lot of streaming crap, streaming services in general are increasingly winning both television and film awards. It also ignores the fact that Cannes is trying to dress protectionism up as something more noble than it actually is. Or, that bad streaming content wouldn’t be considered for awards anyway.

In response, Netflix has now stated that the company will be avoiding Cannes entirely, Netflix Chief Content Office Ted Sarandos stating the company will be taking its ball and going home:

“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,? Sarandos says. ?There?s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They?ve set the tone. I don?t think it would be good for us to be there.”

In a subsequent interview, Sarandos says Netflix learned of its ouster from the media, and was quick to point out that Cannes is really only making itself look stupid here:

“We hope that they do change the rules. We hope that they modernize. But we will continue to support all films and all filmmakers. We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back. 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. Of course they are two different things. But we are choosing to be about the future of cinema. If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that?s fine.”

It’s all really just another stupid example of how folks love to try to dress up counterproductive protectionism, stubbornness and resistance to natural evolution as some kind of more elaborate ethos. And how countless people, companies and organizations believe they can somehow thwart disruptive technology to try and roll back the clock to the way things used to be. Of course as Techdirt readers are very much aware, that never tends to work out particularly well.

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Companies: netflix

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Comments on “Netflix Bows Out Of Cannes After Festival Tells Streaming Services To Get Off Its Lawn”

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jupiterkansas (profile) says:

No question the French law is to blame here, and Cannes should urge a changing of the law, but they’re right to deny Netflix for not wanting to comply with the law.

Netflix says, “We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker”

They are on fair ground with every other filmmaker.

All the other filmmakers (some of whom don’t have cushy Netflix distribution deals) have to comply with the French law. Netflix is the one that wants to have its cake and eat it too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The point here was that the law was essentially created at the request of Cannes to keep NetFlix out. NetFlix is just responding with “OK: we can tell when we’re not wanted”.

How long will it be before NetFlix hosts their own streaming movie festival and allows submissions from movies that specifically fail the Cannes restrictions?

They could even combine forces with Amazon and Google to feature first-to-stream content featured on NetFlix, Prime and YouTube….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Let’s also note here the fact that the French premier cable movie network Canal+ is allowed to show feature films 12 months after their theatrical release, while other broadcasters are not. That exception was granted as compensation because Canal+ agreed to invest heavily in funding the French film industry.

The French have always been very protectionist. They even limit the percentage of foreign ownership of television networks and radio stations.

Netflix has always had to abide by the law in the past. Simply, Netflix wouldd not normally have theatrical releases of its movies, and would thus be in compliance with the law’s "Cultural Exception." But here’s where it gets even more interesting: Cannes has a new operator as of last year, and that operator announced that all films in the competition will have to be released to French movie theaters. This of course, forces the whole theatrical release legal exeception.

So under French law if Netflix releases one of its movies to French theaters, the only way it could allow the movie to be seen in French homes 12 months later would be to license the movie to Canal+.

And the law exists because the movie and theater industry lobbied for it. Because they then control the market on all films. Films can only move from theater to video-on-demand after 4 months, to cable after 10 months, free television in 22 months, and streaming services at 36 months.

French law also places limits on the number of feature films that can be broadcast per year by each type of service. A television station cannot transmit more than 192 films a year, and not more than 144 of those between 8:30pm and 10:30pm.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If Cannes was about the streaming business, or cable business, or broadcast business – maybe. But it’s about the cinema exhibition business. If a movie isn’t going to exhibit in French cinemas, why should Cannes consider it? Just because people think it’s good? Most of the people that think the latest Netflix film is the best thing ever hasn’t probably seen half of the Palm d’Or winners of the last 20 years to even compare the quality.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

That doesn’t make any sense.

The movie business is the business of making, marketing, etc., movies. How the movie gets to the audience is an implementation detail; there may be good business reasons to do it one way, but just because someone else decides to do it a different way, that doesn’t mean that that someone is not in the movie business.

David (profile) says:

We are talking about the French.

Why is anyone surprised?

The Academy French (Academe Francaise) sole purpose is to prevent diluting their language with non-french words. Like transistor. And radio. Which are brilliantly converted to transistor and radio. But in French.

So, regardless of their lack of success they will continue on this path. Indeed, they have been protecting their language for the past four centuries. Without a doubt they have every intention of doing such for the next four.

C’est du protectionnisme. The very heart of France.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think the idea is that if Made for TV movies aren’t eligible, then Made for Streaming movies shouldn’t be eligible either. In much the same way, we have the Oscars and the Emmys here in the US here that historically recognize one medium or the other, though Netflix is able to get their content nominated for either (or in some cases both) thanks to the relatively relaxed rules to get nominated for an Oscar (a limited showing in LA theaters) while titles initially being released for Streaming are eligible for Emmys. That is unsurprisingly not without its controversy, thus there have been recently proposed rules that would require a company such as Netflix or Amazon to only submit a particular work for one set of awards.

That said, the French windowing requirements, especially the 3 years before online streaming for theatrical releases is just stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow… somebody sure is busy making themselves obsolete. A movie event, who can’t stop proclaiming their undying love for the supreme art that are movies, only likes some movies… not based on their content or quality, but on how they are released.
Hey, I have an idea! Movie creators: Why not release movies in the cinema and streaming services at the same time? then you would be on equal ground and if the cinema really is so superior then there will still be enough people who visits(personally I don’t find the experience THAT good, more like it detracts from my enjoyment of the screen content).

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hey, I have an idea! Movie creators: Why not release movies in the cinema and streaming services at the same time?

Per discussion on this very page: under French law, that’s apparently illegal. You’re not allowed to release to streaming services for 36 months after the theatrical release, unless you have an exception under the law – and the only entity with an exception just has a 12-month lockout period instead.

Exactly why that is the law is another question; if it’s only in the law because the "movie creators" you’re addressing asked for it to be, then your point may indeed be well-directed.

Anonymous Coward says:

As a private org, Cannes FF can make whatever requirements.

And Netflix can go make it own venue if won’t meet standard.

What’s the problem? That’s exactly the arbitrary control and alternative option you corporatists assert for “natural” persons with regard to “platforms”! WHY complain when someone else does exactly same?

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