First, a quick primer for those not familiar with how film financing happens in many territories outside the United States. In Canada, the U.K., and many European and Latin American countries, there are handfuls of government subsidized funding bodies that providing financing to locally produced films and television shows. The money comes from a variety of sources, including taxes or monies paid by broadcasters who operate in the country. The idea is that this financing helps foster continued creative and cultural growth, and helps balance the scales somewhat against the influx of Hollywood products. This system has certainly supported numerous auteurs around the world, but what is the responsibility of VOD players to support the system, seeing as how they don’t technically reside in any one country?
That was the crux of the barbed question Netflix honcho Ted Sarandos faced today at the tail end of his talk at the Cannes Film Festival. A French journalist pointed out that Netflix is based out of the Netherlands in Europe, they don’t have to contribute to the same subsidies as other VOD players and broadcasters, and then moreover speculated that Netflix’s unwillingness to play ball would lead to the destruction of film culture in Europe.
Sarandos countered that Netflix certainly wasn’t taking away any existing funding for filmmakers, and by hiring local talent for their own original programming, they were actually being quite supportive of filmmaking in Europe. But not one to let his voice go unheard, Harvey Weinstein was in attendance and jumped up to the defense of Netflix (who distributed his “Marco Polo” series and are working on the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel).
“This is a guy who buys documentaries and cares. This is a guy who buys foreign-language movies and cares,” Weinstein said. “And every one of these monopolies, let’s start with [French broadcaster] TF1…they’ve gotten a wake-up call by what Netflix has done. And you know what? They’ve all gotten better and their quality is going to improve and they’re going to be big customers for your product. So, having the rebel in the room made us all better and stronger.”
Thoughts? This is debate certainly isn’t over. Check out the video below. The fun starts around the 49-minute mark. [via Thompson On Hollywood]