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Going After Netflix, Cannes Bans Streaming-Only Movies From Competition Slots (slate.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes: The Cannes Film Festival is taking a stand against Netflix. Responding to a rumor that the streaming service's Okja, directed by Bong Joon Ho, and The Meyerowitz Stories, directed by Noah Baumbach, would be excluded from awards consideration after being included in the Competition lineup, the festival released a statement clarifying and adjusting its positioning going forward. The short version: From now on, if you want to compete at Cannes, your movie had better be released in French movie theaters -- not just online. There has long been a point of tension between Cannes and Netflix, to the extent where the inclusion of Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories came as a bit of a surprise. Netflix films had previously been snubbed and festival officials had advocated for "discouraging" the streaming service's online-first approach to release. The two movies included in Cannes' lineup this year are slated for theatrical bows stateside, but according to the festival's official statement, "no agreement has been reached" to get the moves into French cinemas and the effort to reach one was made "in vain." However, the statement does clarify that this rule goes into effect next year, so Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories will remain in competition and eligible for the Palme d'Or.
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Going After Netflix, Cannes Bans Streaming-Only Movies From Competition Slots

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  • I can see the argument for banning something not shot on film, if film is your thing. But if you're going to allow that, then banning something for being straight-to-streaming is wrong.

    • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

      Heh, yes, online streaming will become a newsworthy sensation of the times for people who live and discuss happenings in the moment. Cannes will become relegated to being the debut release venue for hipsters who lovingly handcraft their timeless masterpieces.

      Well, I see the point of them carving out that niche for themselves in a bid to stay relevant.

      • Their relevancy is being able to select which movies are seen by distribution companies and high-powered executives. With online distribution, just about any decent film maker can offer their movies to Netflix and bypass Cannes altogether. I don't know, but I'd bet movies that are independent pay or reward the CFF if their movie gets picked up, so the CFF is just protecting their market.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Most film/artistic rewards are usually about somehow benefiting those who run them. For example, it's a pretty open secret that you can't win the Oscars without doing some heavy bribery:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03... [nytimes.com]

          In other words, if you've ever wondered why a rather average movie can win so many awards (I'm looking at you, Lost in Translation) it's because somebody paid good money for it to happen.

          That said, it's best to just ignore them.

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          In the past a person needed to find, get given or buy physical film. It was expensive and unless donated a lot of projects needed wealthy funding or some free support.
          That was a great gate keeper to ensure only a select few could ever set movie trends or ensure only their movies got national and international release.
          With digital streaming all that is protection is gone. Skill, merit, a good script, creativity and getting good reviews is the only cost.
          People can create, edit, add sound tracks, correct
      • ...carving out that niche for themselves in a bid to stay relevant.

        By doing this, they are admitting that they are irrelevant. Imagine a music awards show saying they will only award artists who produce a vinyl copy.

        Perhaps instead of trying to for relevance, they should use their brand to move with the market and find alternate profit models.

    • I can see the argument for banning something not shot on film, if film is your thing. But if you're going to allow that, then banning something for being straight-to-streaming is wrong.

      Hardly anything is shot on film these days...so, I think that point is moot.

      It is all mostly filmed in digital these days. Heck, its hard to even find film to shoot a movie on these days.

      But to me...a movie is a movie, no matter where how it if filmed or where it is shown and enjoyed.

      I'm not sure I can see what the object

      • It is all mostly filmed in digital these days.

        You mean it's all digitalled in digital.

        • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

          "Captured", then "ingested", then "post-processed", then "distributed".

          Kind of like what happens when humans go to the market and capture their food, then they ingest the food, then they process the food, then they distribute what's left.

      • by Motard ( 1553251 )

        They have their goals (some of them may even be good - or not). Who cares? It's their choice. Their award.

        MTV has been getting press for their awards this year. The criteria are not the same as for the Academy Awards, Sundance, The Golden Globes, etc.

        Perhaps we need a 'Movie Awards Award'.

        • Their goals, according to their own site http://www.festival-cannes.com... [festival-cannes.com] is as follow (in french):

          "Pour durer, le Festival a dû rester fidèle à sa vocation fondatrice qui était de révéler et mettre en valeur des uvres de qualité pour servir l'évolution du cinéma, favoriser le développement de l'industrie du film dans le monde et célébrer le 7ème art à l’international. Aujourd’hui encore, cette profession de foi constitue
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Movie theatres are digital now. There is no difference between showing a DRM'd watermarked big budget blockbuster on a big screen or hooking your xbox up to it (Halo was so freaking awesome that night!)

      So, Netflix FR, rent an old movie theater, spend 35K on a digital projector, and charge a buck for admission to watch your movies. You need 2 employees, one to run the movies and clean between each show, the other to sell tickets. Don't even sell concessions, take it as a loss leader and meet all the requirem

      • Movie theatres are digital now. There is no difference between showing a DRM'd watermarked big budget blockbuster on a big screen or hooking your xbox up to it (Halo was so freaking awesome that night!)

        So, Netflix FR, rent an old movie theater, spend 35K on a digital projector, and charge a buck for admission to watch your movies. You need 2 employees, one to run the movies and clean between each show, the other to sell tickets. Don't even sell concessions, take it as a loss leader and meet all the requirements and make them fuckers fume and dance next year when they have to change the req's yet again if they want to keep you out.

        Then again, I don't care about Cannes. I have Netflix. :)

        The problem is the rules.

        First, to be eligible in the Cannes film festival, your film must be shown in a theatre. Easy enough to do for anyone.

        BUT, French law has it that no streaming service may show that film until three years after its theatrical debut. Now we have a problem since it disallows simultaneous streaming and theatrical releases, as well as many films that show at various film festivals and then head to digital distribution months after the showing.

        That's the real problem

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Wait why the hell does France have that law? Did they buy it or something?

    • I can see the argument for banning something not shot on film, if film is your thing. But if you're going to allow that, then banning something for being straight-to-streaming is wrong.

      Not having learned the lesson of ballet and opera, some are inclined to preserve the portions of the art-form that are entirely irrelevant, at any cost, including their art.

    • movies stopped being shot on film long ago. regardless this is a lot like the rest of the movie industry where they stick there head in the sand and pretend the world isn't going to move forward as long as they don't want it to.
      • by Misagon ( 1135 )

        There are still a few directors who still prefer to shoot on film ... even though the film will be digitized for post-production later.
        Christopher Nolan is one of them.
        Star Wars The Force Awakens was also shot on film, some 35 mm, some 70mm (IMAX).

    • I would take the opposite point of view. What medium it's recorded on is irrelevant - I can't for the life of me see why that would matter to Cannes or anyone else. The point is that it's the intention that the work be shown on a large screen in front of an audience. That reflects the type of work in much the same way that a website and a novel may contain the same number of words, but you'd expect the latter to be written in an entirely different way to the former, in part because the intent is for someon

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        I would argue that refusing to allow something to win novel of the year because it was only distributed electronicly would be silly. The medium is text, its not and has never been about the type face or format. If it were authors would scream about how large print and paper back additions clearly destroy the integrity of their work. I have never heard such claims.

        A novel is a fictional or dramatized historical narrative in text. That is what defines it.

        A movie is a story or event recorded by a camera as

      • The point is that it's the intention that the work be shown on a large screen in front of an audience.

        The audience is largely irrelevant. The large screen is relevant, but now it's common for home viewers to have a screen which is perceptually just as large as a movie screen, and it's not uncommon for home viewers to have more resolution than digital projection now that 4k is a thing.

        Let's face it, it might as well be The Grammys. Cannes is about putting asses in theater seats in the same way that the Gramophone Awards are about record sales. Which is to say, it has nothing whatsoever to do with artistic me

    • It's not about film, it's about the movie experience.

      As Godard says, "La télévision fabrique de l'oubli. Le cinéma fabrique des souvenirs."

      He may be right or wrong, but there's a full theory about how movies are different from television (the line may be blurred by home cinema, though), so there are some rationals behind a decision to keep them separate at a film festival.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Awards or not, these movies will still exist, and they will still be recognized as great -- just without the "Palm d'Or."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Goonies and All About Eve. I wonder which film will win this year?

    Note that my festival is just as prestigious as Cannes, we both choose what we want to show, ignore all the rest, and then pretend that these were the best films!

    • Goonies of course. Although All About Eve should definitely get honorable mention for tackling a complex subject rarely discussed at matinee.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @04:48PM (#54407571) Homepage Journal

    missed an opportunity with the title

  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @04:54PM (#54407599)
    When you decide to narrow your view of what a film is, while the whole world pivots to something else, you can only last for so long.

    I mean the fall from prominance will be quick, even if the festival lives on for a few decades after they actively choose irrelevance.
  • Who? (Score:4, Funny)

    by s1d3track3D ( 1504503 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @04:59PM (#54407633)
    Cannes just became MORE irrelevant.

    FYI Cannes/RIAA/MPAA/BMG/Old Media, etc., burying your head in the sand is not the best strategy in the long run.
  • by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @05:13PM (#54407697)
    Typical old-business-model bullshit. You're not making the theaters money so they won't let your play in their lot.

    Next you'll tell them the world is round. And we know how THAT ended up last time.
    • That is what entertainment awards ceremonies were created for, admittedly: to generate interest in the industry to sell tickets.

      To be fair, Netflix only cares for the exact same reason.

  • What they should really be banning is platform exclusive titles. Meaning, if your movie title is exclusively release on platform XYZ then it's disqualified. It's an effort made in vain but if you're going to do it, do it for a good reason.

    • Have you not seen the marketing phrase "Only in theaters" to induce FOMO and artificial scarcity? Nevermind that it's on DVD and Blu-Ray in 6 months. Most movies shown in theaters are exclusive at that time.

    • by Misagon ( 1135 )

      The platform is "Netflix", the movies available in France only to Netflix' subscribers.

      If they are going to be neutral and streamed, then they should be available to anyone to stream for a one-time fee, not just to those who pay a monthly subscription fee.

      • And their platform is rl theaters. It could be argued that those showings are the more exclusive if you want to see more than one movie a month. Just because *you* can afford more doesn't mean Jean Luque can.
  • by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @05:18PM (#54407731) Homepage Journal

    Netflix buys a small French cinema, has one off showings of its movies.

    Problem solved.

    • All the streaming content suppliers could chip in. It would be nicely ironic if it was a great success!

  • by Guillermito ( 187510 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @05:38PM (#54407845) Homepage
    The article doesn't mention the real problem: France Media Chronology Law. It states that if a film is shown in theaters in France, then the distributors should wait three years until they make it available for streaming. If it wasn't for this law, Netflix could just release the films on a limited number of theaters to appease the Cannes officials.
    • Can't mod today but I'd give you +5 Informative if I could!

    • by bidule ( 173941 )

      Bingo!

      This is good PR. They don't want the streaming French customers to suffer because of the evil theater monopoly. And next year, Netflix will ask for an exemption (derogation?) and get more free publicity that way.

    • That fact should be edited into the summary.
  • They're regulating themselves into irrelevance. Well, good riddance. Cannes is long past its prime, anyway. I certainly don't give credence to their official selections anymore, and neither should anyone else.

  • Netflix and other streaming services need to simply start their own awards.

    And then when everything is streaming and going straight to disk and theaters are dead- Cannes will be irrelevant.

  • From my perspective Cannes shot themselves in the foot. A lot of great films are going immediately to stream and this technology has no impact on the story, directing, cinematography or acting.

    Are they really this snobby? I can't see a case for eliminating any segment unless that segment poses a real threat to film quality in which case there still remains no reason to eliminate them from contention; if a project isn't good it wouldn't get an award anyway.

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      The French are very protective of their film industry - anything that challenges the status quo is generally frowned on.

      Regardless of the long-term implications.

  • ...nothing prevents an industry being left behind as technologically irrelevant better than plugging one's ears and saying "nah nah nah" until it hopefully goes away.

    Dumb fuckers.

  • The point of contention here according to the Cannes Film Festival's official letter is not that it is being distributed on-line but that the movie is available in France only to Netflix's subscribers and not to the general public.

    Back in 2009-2010, no movie theatre chain in my country wanted to screen The Blind Side because they thought that nobody over here would want to see it. Then Sandra Bullock went and won an Oscar for acting in it ...
    It was then - before its regular streaming window - made availab

    • I'm not sure if prices in France are different, but based on US prices, if you were not a Netflix subscriber and wanted to watch a particular movie only available on Netflix you could subscribe to Netflix, watch the movie, and then cancel your subscription. In doing so you would have paid slightly less than the cost of a movie ticket. So I would argue that a movie only showing in Netflix is as available to the general public as a movie only showing in theaters.
      • So I would argue that a movie only showing in Netflix is as available to the general public as a movie only showing in theaters.

        Your argument is ill-conceived.

        To watch a one-off movie on Netflix, I need a credit- or debit-card, a reasonably spec'd computer with widescreen monitor, an OS and browser that supports whatever DRM-de-jour is required - or a SmartTV that isn't too old to support the latest NetFlix app - and an uncapped broadband connection. Then I need to trust that Netflix will honour my subscription cancellation request. Of course, this pre-supposes that the NetFlix catalogue in my region actually has the movie available

    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      No. If the problem was with exclusivity, they would also be excluding Gaumont exclusive movies & UGC exclusives.

      Cannes worded the exclusion quite clearly: Release to theater chains or else.

      If it were possible for Netflix to project their production in a few theaters concurrently to releasing them for streaming to qualify for Cannes, they would probably do so, but that's not the problem. The problem is that it is illegal to stream any new movies in France until 3 years after they are released in theaters

  • I would have thought that some enterprising person could rent a movie theater, hook their phone up to netflix and project the output onto the big screen. Probably a bit blotchy, but Voila as they say...
    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      It's illegal to stream content in France until 3 years after movies have been released to theaters. Straight to steam content isn't affected.

  • They are the prototypical definition of obsolete.
  • The Cannes Film Festival exists so people in the film industry can have a sponsored/tax deductible junket to the south of France. That's all.

    Questions of "relevance" and "quality" are beside the point. Cannes will continue as long movie industry people can keep getting someone else to pick up the tab...

  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @08:18PM (#54408479)

    Well, it's their festival, so it's their choice I guess. As it's our own to pay attention to it.

    But surely they must be aware that they are reducing the festival from a competition to promote the art, to a shrill for the cinema business.

    I mean, look at parts of the full quote:
    "The Festival de Cannes is aware of the anxiety aroused by the absence of the release in theaters of those films in France".
    What anxiety? Does anyone care these days if a movie isn't released in theaters? Is this the 80s or something?

    "The Festival de Cannes asked Netflix in vain to accept that these two films could reach the audience of French movie theaters and not only its subscribers. Hence the Festival regrets that no agreement has been reached".
    Why is a film festival taking active part in negotiating film releases in theaters? This only shows bias, which is extremely bad for any sort of competition.

    "Any film that wishes to compete in Competition at Cannes will have to commit itself to being distributed in French movie theaters. This new measure will apply from the 2018 edition of the Festival International du Film de Cannes onwards".
    This is where it becomes irrelevant then. I don't fucking care whether a movie is being shown in French movie theaters or not, and I bet a whole ton of french people also don't.

    But it's great that they let us know. Because if someone asks why a great movie he/she watched on Netflix didn't show up on the festival at all, there's the answer: a biased approach of selection. We're gonna select the best films around the world, as long as they paid their due to the french movie theater industry.

  • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @01:01AM (#54409361) Homepage Journal

    It's a bit like auto racing. Every class isn't just open to any vehicle you want to enter, there are qualifications for each. This is why so many automakers release limited run production cars -- so that they can then race them in "stock" classes. They may only build 50 for sale, but it's a production vehicle, so they get to enter it.

    Similarly, if someone wants their film in consideration for Cannes, they'll have to sneak it into a French theater or two. This hurts pretty much nobody, and is not an immense hoop to jump through. It's just the way the game is played.

  • Who cares? This will only make them more irrelevant.

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