Stream or silver screen: Netflix pulls plug on Cannes, is Hollywood next?

Tilda Swinton in the Netflix film Okja, directed by Bong Joon-ho. Audiences booed the Netflix logo when it was shown at the Cannes film festival in 2017. Photograph: Kimberly French/Jae Hyuk Lee

Netflix’s decision to pull out of the Cannes film festival highlights the tension between streaming companies and the cinema industry over how movies will be watched in the future.

The world’s premiere film festival provided a cool reception for the US streaming company last year, with audiences booing the Netflix logo when it appeared before the screenings of Bong Joon-ho’s family adventure film Okja, as well The Meyerowitz Stories from athe US director Noah Baumbach. Boos aside, the films were a critical success. But they symbolise a threat to a well-established business model for the industry.

This year the festival’s organisers, who insist that films can only be entered for the competition if they are screened in French cinemas, have said Netflix can only show films out of competition at the festival, which takes place next month. Netflix will not do this because under French law, films cannot be streamed until three years after their cinema release in the country.

The British actor Helen Mirren joined the fray on Thursday, claiming that the rise of streaming has been “devastating” for film-makers such as her husband, the US film director Taylor Hackford, ……

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