Cannes Film Fest 2017: Netflix Under Fire from French Theatrical Distrbutors

The Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF) is railing against the inclusion of two Netflix films in Cannes Official Selection.

Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja will compete for the Palme d’Or, while Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories starring Adam Sandler, will be shown out of competition.

Cannes Film Fest head Thierry Fremaux hinted that Netflix head Ted Sarandos will change his French strategy during the festival.

Under French law, SVOD services like Netflix must wait 36 months after a film’s theatrical release to stream a film.

But both films are scheduled to be released on Netflix later this year, and even a Cannes announcement of theatrical release may not satisfy the organization.

Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' was expected to debut at Cannes
It called for a “quick clarification to be made so that it is confirmed that these works will be able to be released in cinemas in accordance with the current regulatory framework.”

They also said that an online-only release would “call into question their nature as a cinematographic work.”

FNCF said that simultaneous release could be punished by the National Cinema Center (CNC). It also said that Netflix has been avoiding its fiscal obligations in France by skipping theatrical distribution. Theater ticket sales partially fund the CNC.

“For several years, Netflix has bypassed French regulations and tax rules. These rules form the basis of the financing structure of an exemplary cinema industry in our country, which is what allows most French and foreign films of the Official Selection to be made.”

Jean Labadie, president of distributor Le Pacte, lambasted the inclusion of the films in Cannes’ official selection accusing Netflix of promoting “the death of the theaters” and compared the company to two other multi-nationals that have been flouting local laws.

“They closed their office in France. Their desire to negotiate is like the desire of Uber to pay it’s drivers and of Google to pay its taxes,” he wrote.

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