It was inevitable, really: Netflix has bought two movies at Cannes, the festival it publicly fell out with over streaming rights.
The Netflix/Cannes feud will go down as one of the most significant in the movie industry, shining a spotlight on the effect streaming services are having the world over: they’re pushing for change, in an industry that’s glacial to react.
Netflix chose not to contend at Cannes, for two intertwined reasons. The first is that France’s streaming rule mean anything that gets a theatrical release in the country can’t be shown for 36 months on home video or streaming platforms. The second: Cannes changed its own rules this year, stating that anything showing at the festival had to have a theatrical release in France.
This created a perfect streaming storm, and Netflix had no option but to avoid the festival, the event at which it had debuted Okja and Meyerowitz Stories (albeit to protests) the year before.
While it may not have shown its own movies, Netflix was certainly there with its distribution hat on, announcing that it has purchased the rights to best screenplay award-winner Happy As Lazzaro, and the movie that won best first film for director Lukas Dhont, Girl.
Yes you, Cannes
Although there were also rumors that Netflix was set to acquire the movie that opened the festival, Everybody Knows, this was snapped up by Focus Features.
Netflix also missed out on the Cannes Grand Prix winner, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman (Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It Netflix show has just been renewed for a second season, so that’s something) and Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters.
Speaking recently about the Cannes situation, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings noted that: “Sometimes we make mistakes. We got into a bigger situation with Cannes than we meant to.”