A few weeks ago Cannes Film Festival announced that it wouldn't be allowing Netflix to compete for the Palme d'Or anymore. The streaming service had been allowed to compete last year, apparently in the hopes that it would begin releasing some of its films to cinemas, but Netflix made it clear that was never on the cards. Now the streaming service has confirmed it won't be attending Cannes at all.
That competition ban isn't Netflix specific, applying to any streaming service that forgoes the traditional cinema release, but so far Netflix is the highest-profile name to snub cinemas. Part of the reasoning lies with the way French law is set out, guaranteeing cinemas get to show films at least four months before studios can begin any sort of direct distribution - a time period that increases to three years when streaming is involved. Evidently Netflix did attempt to sort out a small-scale cinema release to comply with Cannes' rules, but the French laws, and the resulting uproar from local unions and filmmakers, meant it didn't happen. After all, Netflix doesn't want to make French subscribers wait three whole years before they can see its content
Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos said to variety:
"We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker. 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."
Sarandos also noted that Netflix was implicitly mentioned when Cannes announced this new rule, and that its decision to pull out of Cannes completely wasn't really its decision to make. He also made it clear that the decision clearly isn't just in the hands of Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux, who made the original announcement, even mentioning that weren't any sort of discussions between Cannes and Netflix with Sarandos admitting he learned the news reading about it in the press.
But Sarandos confirmed that Netflix won't be completely absent. While the company won't be screening films at the festival (that was still allowed, even if they were ineligible for the Palme d'Or), the company will be sending people to seek out films that may not have distributors - with the intention of bringing them to Netflix. [Variety via Engadget]