Netflix Defends Strategy at Cannes: ‘The Culture Is Changing’

Under pressure from French film entities, the festival announced last week that it had changed its rules to require future competition films to have a French theatrical release.

At a news conference here on Wednesday, Pedro Almodóvar, the Cannes jury president, read a manifesto defending theatrical screenings and said it would be a paradox to give the Palme d’Or to a film that wouldn’t be seen on screens. “The size of the screen should not be smaller than the chair you’re sitting on,” Mr. Almodóvar said.

“You must be feel small and humble in front of the image,” he added.

Mr. Sarandos called that view “beautifully romantic.”

“Why would we want to hold back a movie for an enormous number of people to enjoy throughout the entire country that a few hundred, maybe a few thousand people could see the film in Paris?” Mr. Sarandos said. “It seemed to me like the right thing to do was to give the people, our subscribers, who pay to make these movies, access to them immediately all over the world,” he added.


Tilda Swinton in a scene from “Okja.” The movie is one of two Netflix titles that are playing in the Cannes festival’s main competition but won’t appear in any French theaters.

Kimberly French/Netflix

Asked if the festival organizers were aware that Netflix wasn’t seeking a wide theatrical release in France, Mr. Sarandos said, “They were fully aware of our release strategy.”

Not everyone here was critical of Netflix. A Cannes juror, Will Smith, defended it at the news conference with Mr. Almodóvar. “In my home it’s done nothing but broaden my children’s cinematic global comprehension,” he said. Mr. Smith stars in “Bright,” a thriller that will debut on Netflix this year.

Another actor said…

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