Cannes Film Festival: Will Smith And Pedro Almodovar Clash Over Netflix

Brunilde Fioravanti
Mag 20, 2017

― Reuters picCANNES, May 18 ― Cannes jury chief Pedro Almodovar fired a warning shot at streaming giant Netflix yesterday, declaring that the film that wins the festival's top prize should be shown in cinemas.

"Like "Carol" two years ago, "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" shows that Greater Cincinnati is the home to world-class cinema", said Kristen Schlotman, executive director of Film Cincinnati.

The US platform has refused to screen the two movies in French cinemas due to strict rules that mean films can not be streamed from subscription services in France until three years after their traditional box office release.

Netflix has two films in the running for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and a policy of releasing its movies online on the same day that they start showing in cinemas.

Almodovar, the filmmaker behind Julieta and Volver, added he doesn't "perceive the Palme d'Or [should be] given to a film that is then not seen on the big screen".

Jury members Will Smith, from left, Jessica Chastain and Pedro Almodovar pose for photographers during the photo call for the Jury at the 70th global film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. It is worth noting that Smith will shortly appear in Netflix's science fiction epic Bright.

"The establishment closing ranks against us", Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote on Facebook. Almodovar, reading from a lengthy pre-written statement in Spanish, spoke about the tensions that have grown in a film industry that is trying to grapple with new players like Netflix that don't necessarily premiere movies in theaters. "You must be small and humble in front of the image that's here".

"But while I'm alive, I will be fighting for the one thing the new generation is not aware of - the capacity of hypnosis of a large screen for a viewer".

Smith, who has not had a film play at Cannes before, was dapperly dressed and cheerfully posing with festival-goers who screamed "Will!" They go to the movies twice a week, and they watch Netflix.

"In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit", Smith said, explaining that his kids "get to see films they absolutely wouldn't have seen".

Last year, jury member Kirsten Dunst and pregnant Blake Lively, who was promoting Woody Allen's film Cafe Society, scored points with fashion-watchers for their string of stunning gowns, while Bella Hadid had jaws dropping with her barely there Alexandre Vauthier red frock.

The row centres on strict rules that restrict subscription services from online streaming in France until three years after a movie goes on general release. Netflix brings a great connectivity for them to the world. Chastain likewise echoed her honour at being surrounded by fellow artists, saying she hoped they would "open my mind and heart in unexpected ways".

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