In a recent interview with Deadline, Cannes general delegate Thierry Frémaux said that he invited Netflix to the festival in 2021 to world premiere Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” and Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde” in out-of-competition slots, but the streaming giant rejected. After it was reported that Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” was planning an out-of-competition debut in 2020 to coincide with the director’s role on the competition jury, several industry insiders speculated that 2021 may be the year Netflix returned to Cannes. The 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic, and we now know from yesterday’s release of the 2021 series that Netflix will not be participating this year.
When questioned about Netflix invitations in 2021, Frémaux remarked, “[Paolo] Sorrentino’s movie [‘Hand of God‘] is not at all ready.” “Jane Campion’s picture might have been ready, Andrew Dominik’s picture [‘Blonde’] might have been ready — it’s lovely, I watched it — and I invited those films out of competition. Netflix declined my invitation to Cannes, but I insisted on inviting them anyway, and sadly… It’s crucial to note that it’s Netflix refuses to let us see their movies; it’s Netflix doesn’t want or can’t… They wish to participate in the competition, but the films must be published (theatrically) in France.”
Since Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” and Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” opened in competition at the 2017 festival, sparking a storm of criticism, Netflix and Cannes have been at odds. Cannes took control of the issue by enacting a regulation requiring all films competing for the Palme d’Or to be released theatrically in France, thereby excluding Netflix from the competition. In France, theatrical movies have to wait three years before they can be streamed, thus competing at Cannes runs against Netflix’s economic strategy. Cannes has left the door open for Netflix to screen films outside of competition (non-competition films are not required to have theatrical distribution in France).
When questioned about the three-year theatrical window in France, Frémaux told Deadline, “I think absolutely, it will change one day.” “I believe that the issue of windows, theatrical protection, and the development of platforms is a basic phenomenon of the moving image world across the world, and we want Cannes to be at the center of it in some manner. But I’d like Netflix to be a part of it as well.”
“Netflix safeguards its system, its subscribers, and its clients,” Frémaux stated. I would have rather that they come out of the competition to demonstrate the quality of their labor and goods. However, you must go to Netflix to see the quality of their work. Fortunately, I’m a Netflix user who enjoys the service, but my job requires me to show movies. I’d also want to show some Netflix movies.”
Jane Campion is a Cannes legend and the only woman to have won the Palme d’Or for her critically acclaimed play “The Piano.” Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst (a Cannes Best Actress winner for “Melancholia”), and Jesse Plemons feature in her newest film, “The Power of the Dog.” With “Killing Them Softly,” Dominik competed for the Palme d’Or in 2012. “Blonde,” a vague biographical drama featuring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, is his most recent film.
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