Cannes general delegate Thierry Frémaux revealed in a new interview with Deadline that he invited Netflix to the 2021 festival to world premiere Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” and Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde” in out of competition slots, but the streaming giant declined. Some industry players thought 2021 could be the year Netflix returned to Cannes after it was rumored that Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” was lining up an out of competition premiere in 2020 to coincide with the director heading the competition jury. That premiere never happened as the pandemic canceled the 2020 festival, and now we know after yesterday’s 2021 lineup announcement that Netflix won’t be attending this year.
“[Paolo] Sorrentino’s movie [‘Hand of God’] is not at all ready,” Frémaux said when asked about Netflix invites in 2021. “Jane Campion’s movie could have been ready, Andrew Dominik’s film [‘Blonde’] could have been ready — it’s beautiful, I saw it — and I invited those films Out of Competition. Netflix doesn’t want to come to Cannes, but I invited them anyway and alas…It’s important, it’s not us refusing Netflix movies, it’s Netflix who doesn’t want or can’t…They want to come in Competition but films that are part of the Competition must be released (theatrically) in France.”
Netflix and Cannes have been at odds ever since Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” and Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” premiered in competition at the 2017 festival, igniting a storm of controversy. Cannes took charge of the situation by issuing a rule that all movies that compete for the Palme d’Or must have theatrical releases in France, indirectly barring Netflix from competition. Theatrical releases in France must wait three years until they become available to stream, so competing at Cannes goes against Netflix’s business model. Cannes has kept the door open for Netflix to play out of competition (there’s no rule stating non-competition titles must have a theatrical release in France), but Netflix has yet to accept the offer.
“Globally, I think yes, it is going to change one day,” Frémaux told Deadline when asked about the three-year theatrical window in France. “I think that all over the world, the question of windows, of the protection of theatrical, of the appearance of platforms — all of this is a fundamental phenomenon of the world of the moving image and we want Cannes to be in some way at the heart of that. But, I’d like that Netflix is also at the heart of that.”
Frémaux continued, “Netflix protects its system, its subscribers, its clients. I would have loved that they come Out of Competition also to show the quality of their work, the quality of their productions. But to see the quality of their productions, you have to go to Netflix. Fortunately, I’m a subscriber and I love Netflix, but my job is to show films. I would also love to show Netflix films.”
Jane Campion is a Cannes icon and remains the only woman director to win the Palme d’Or thanks to her acclaimed drama “The Piano.” Her latest, “The Power of the Dog,” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst (a Cannes Best Actress winner for “Melancholia”), and Jesse Plemons. Dominik competed for the Palme d’Or in 2012 with “Killing Them Softly.” His latest is “Blonde,” a loose biographical drama starring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe.