Netflix Might End Up With Opening Night Cannes Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

Netflix executives have expressed interest in acquiring “Everybody Knows,” the opening night film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Variety has learned.

Under normal circumstances, the fact that the streaming goliath is circling the Spanish-language drama directed by Asghar Farhadi wouldn’t be that unusual. But what makes the potential play for the movie noteworthy is that it comes after months of back-and-forth between Netflix and Cannes.

The 71st edition of the world’s most glamorous film festival created a stir in April, by announcing that Netflix movies wouldn’t be eligible for in-competition slots. That decision was reached after Cannes caved to demands from theater owners in France, where local law requires a movie to wait three years after a theatrical run to play on home platforms.

As opposed to last year, when Netflix was a vibrant presence in the South of France with two major movies (“Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories”), Cannes mandated that all movies playing in competition must receive theatrical distribution first. That prompted Netflix to pull all of its titles for consideration, including out-of-competition screenings.

After the rule change, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos noted the irony that Netflix could acquire a Cannes in-competition movie during or after the festival. “We will have people there who are in the business of acquiring films, because many films will be there without distribution,” he told Variety. Indeed, Netflix has a team of acquisition executives on the ground in France, ready to scoop up product.

And Netflix has also expressed interest in other Cannes titles, according to sources with knowledge of the talks. “Everybody Knows” stars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz as a woman who returns to her native country of Spain to uncover secrets from her past.

It’s still too early to know if Netflix will actually make an offer on “Everybody Knows” (or for what territories). The film has distribution in France from Memento Films, where it will open in theaters on May 9. Insiders tell Variety that other distributors have expressed interest in buying U.S. and global territories prior to the movie’s premiere on Tuesday night.

But the possibility of a deal illustrates that when it comes to Cannes, Netflix isn’t out of the picture by any stretch.

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