Does Netflix need Cannes?

LONDON • Cannes does not want Netflix. But does Netflix need Cannes?

Organisers of the Cannes Film Festival last week said they will be making good on a promise last year to ban Netflix films from the event's main competition. The streaming service does not open films in theatres, a practice that contradicts Cannes' policy.

Netflix thirsts for the prestige that Cannes confers on movies. But if it is at war with an institution like Cannes, that could pose a challenge on several fronts.

Netflix has been able to snag top film-makers, thanks to budgets that are higher than those offered by studios. It is producing movies from top names such as Martin Scorsese and J.C. Chandor, part of a bid to roll out as many as 80 movies a year.

But money may go only so far. Continuing to attract film-makers without the blessing of Cannes juries could be tough.

In an interview last week with ITV News, director Steven Spielberg called Netflix films, with their lack of theatrical distribution, just "TV movies".

Without a chance at something like Cannes' top Palme d'Or prize, Netflix could have a harder time making the case of award-quality offerings to new subscribers.

Many pundits think Cannes may not win this staring contest, especially as more high-end films arrive from other theatre-agnostic streaming providers.

But the festival is not blinking yet, forcing Netflix to hold on to its philosophy, but not a Palme d'Or.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2018, with the headline 'Does Netflix need Cannes?'. Print Edition | Subscribe