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Roman Polanski Uses ‘Borat’ to Explain the Netflix/Theater Divide at Cannes

He thinks that fears related to the streaming giant are overblown.

Roman Polanski

Jarek Praszkiewicz/AP/REX/Shutterstock

As this year’s edition of the Cannes Film Festival winds down, one of its most heated debates is still warming up: how the fest will (or won’t) adapt to the streaming age.

It was announced recently that Cannes will no longer screen movies that don’t receive theatrical releases in France, meaning Netflix titles like Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” won’t make the cut next time around. Roman Polanski has weighed in while discussing “Based on a True Story,” arguing that the streaming giant and its ilk “don’t pose a basic threat” to the theatrical experience.

READ MORE: ‘Based on a True Story’ Review: Roman Polanski’s Latest Doesn’t Meet High Expectations — Cannes

“People want to go to the movies not because of better sound, projection, or seats, but because they want to participate in an experience with an audience around,” said Polanski during the press conference for his new film, which premiered at Cannes today. “This is as old as humanity — look at Greek theaters and Roman circus or concerts.”

He also related it to alarmism over similar technological trends, all of which he says were likewise overblown. “I remember, when Walkman or tape became popular, people said, ‘This is the end of concerts!’ and [today, concerts] draw crowds as big as 100,000 people,” said Polanski. He then added “it would be hard to see ‘Borat’ alone. You need to see it in cinema with a laughing audience.”

READ MORE: ‘Based on a True Story’: Eva Green and Emmanuelle Seigner Are Lovers in First Look at Roman Polanski’s New Drama

Eva Green and Emmanuelle Seigner star in “Based on a True Story,” which was co-written by Olivier Assayas and features a score by Alexandre Desplat. Sacha Baron Cohen is not involved with the film, though one imagines that a collaboration between the “Borat” creator and Polanski would be worth seeing.

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