Netflix to snub Cannes Film Festival over rule change

Films with cinematic distribution will play in competition at the Cannes Film Festival but those without will not, incensing Netflix, which will not be partaking.

Netflix was amenable to having their movies play on big screens in France, but a law in the country requires movies to not appear in home platforms for 36 months after their theatrical release.

Last year Netflix had two movies in Cannes’ main competition: Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories. But French theatre owners and unions protested the inclusion of these films to Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of Cannes.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer told 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 will not personally be attending Cannes in May, but some of his executives will be there.

Fremaux said, “Netflix is welcome in Cannes. We have an ongoing debate. We want to tell Ted and Reed [Hastings] and Scott [Stuber] to come, let’s keep talking.”

“It is not a coincidence that Thierry also banned selfies this year,” Sarandos says, of another new rule that doesn’t allow guests to snap pictures on the red carpet. “I don’t know what other advances in media Thierry would like to address.”


  1. Apparently Netflix was also going to screen a version of Orson Welles previously unfinished The Other Side Of The Wind but has also withdrawn this in protest.

  2. Andrew Mercado

    Netflix can still make movies and invest in the industry, but why should they get special treatment? Films made for cinemas should be treated as different beasts from those made for smaller screens – or should we start letting HBO’s excellent movies into Cannes and the Academy Awards as well? You have to draw the line somewhere.

  3. It’s almost like asking is a movie not shot on 35mm still a film? Netflix is a legitimate distribution method, investing in the industry, commissioning content and employing people. They should be allowed to showcase that content with other filmmakers.

    • The law is protectionist to protect the income of film producers, distributors and cinema owners in France. The EU is currently taking steps to ban geo-blocking, access to services and discriminatory pricing on consumers, so all the law is going to do is force the French to watch films elsewhere.

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