Netflix hit by Cannes ‘ban’ after cinema release row in France

2017-05-12 05:08:01 GMT2017-05-12 13:08:01(Beijing Time) Agencies

The Cannes film festival effectively slapped a ban on future Netflix-backed movies Wednesday after the streaming giant refused to screen its two films in this year's competition in French cinemas.

Although comedy The Meyerowitz Stories and South Korean-US thriller Okja will be allowed to compete for its top prize, the Palme d'Or, the festival's organizers said they were changing the rules so it can never happen again.

"From now on every film wishing to be in competition at Cannes must be shown in French cinemas afterwards," they said in a statement.

They said they had "asked Netflix in vain" for the films to be released in France as well to its 86 million subscribers, but it refused.

The row comes as Netflix is locked in a bitter conflict with big US cinema chains.

Top Hollywood directors including director Sofia Coppola - whose new film The Beguiled is also competing at Cannes - have also urged their fans to watch their films on the big screen rather than stream them on tablets and phones.

The crux of the Cannes row turns on French law, which restricts online streaming until three years after a movie is put on general release.

The country's cinemas owners reacted furiously last month after three films distributed by streaming rivals Netflix and Amazon were chosen to run for Cannes' top prize.

Festival organizers tried to negotiate a compromise, with a "limited release" of the movies in France mooted.

But faced with the possibility of a Palme d'Or-winning film being shown in only "one or two screens" in France, talks broke down.

Amazon, on the other hand, is giving its film, Coppola's The Beguiled, a proper cinematic release in France, as it did with Woody Allen's Cannes contender last year, Cafe Society.

Contacted by AFP, Netflix was not available for comment.

Netflix's long-running battle with cinema chains in the US centers on its insistence on releasing its movies online the same day as they hit theaters.

Online rival Amazon has taken a very different approach. Rather than confronting the cinema establishment, Amazon Studios courts Hollywood, releasing its films in theaters before they are made available to subscribers.

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