Cannes vs. Netflix Is the Latest Battle in an Ongoing War – Mathew Ingram May 19, 2017

Netflix's CEO Hastings gestures as he delivers his keynote speech during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Even an inexperienced movie director would have said the symbolism was too heavy-handed. When the screening of a Netflix-backed movie started on Thursday night at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, the aspect ratio was wrong, so large parts of the film couldn’t be seen.

The problem was quickly corrected, and the Festival said it was just a simple projection error. But that small mistake took on much greater significance because it involved Netflix.

Even before the glitch in the projection of the movie on Thursday became obvious, reports say there was a chorus of boos from the audience when the Netflix logo appeared on screen. That’s because many players in the traditional film industry see the streaming giant as an unwelcome interloper in their business, if not an outright threat.

The movie, a new film called Ojka from director Bong Joon-ho, sparked controversy even before Thursday night’s showing, when the head of the Cannes jury—Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodovar—said that he felt Netflix films shouldn’t be eligible for the festival’s Palme d’Or award unless they are screened in a traditional theater first.

Almodovar’s comments echoed the festival’s announcement earlier this month that starting next year, it won’t screen any movies that haven’t had a traditional theatrical release in France first.

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Netflix has said it is willing to consider a truce with the industry, in which its movies would have limited theatrical screenings. But the law in France requires that films be available in theaters for at least three years before they can be streamed online.

On his Facebook page, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings referred to the Cannes festival’s decision as “the establishment closing ranks against us.”

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