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Netflix CEO Boasts 1.5 Million-Plus Subscribers in France, Vows to Invest More in Local Film, TV

Less than two months after lashing out at the “French establishment” for opposing the limited theatrical release of its two Cannes-competing pics (Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories”) in France, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings has told French journalists that the streaming giant was committed to ramping up investment in French and European films and TV series.

Hastings said Netflix now boasts more than 1.5 million subscribers in France. Netflix launched in France in September 2014 with the initial goal of reaching 1.6 million French subscribers — or 10% of all French households — within two years to be profitable.

Netflix’s offer will soon reach a larger number of French residents through its deal with Altice, the parent company of pay-TV group SFR.

Netflix still generates more demand than its rival streaming service Amazon Prime Video, which bowed in France as part of a global rollout in December, according to Parrot Analytics.

The CEO also vowed to increase its investment in French programs which local pay TV channels and SVOD platforms are required to through quotas. In 2018, Netflix will feature 40% more French content than in 2017, said Hastings. On top of “Marseille” and the upcoming “Osmosis,” Netflix is developing two more French originals. The company has now become of the leading purveyors of French films and TV content around the world, Hastings pointed out.

Hastings also discussed the company’s release strategy and its incompatibility with France’s strict release windows, which make streaming services wait 36 months to offer a title after it debuts in theaters. Netflix was denied a temporary permit from the National Film Board to give Cannes title “Okja” a limited release in France ahead of its global online release June 28. Hastings said that while Netflix had failed to find an arrangement with local authorities, it will show “Okja” at a multi-city festival called SoFilm in Paris, Bordeaux and Nantes.

One thing Hastings did not address during the conversation is whether Netflix will consider returning to Cannes Film Festival under the new rule requiring every film in competition to commit to a traditional theatrical release. “

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