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European Exhibitors Slam Venice for Continuing to Embrace Netflix

European exhibitors’ organization UNIC has lambasted the Venice Film Festival for including Netflix titles “The Laundromat” by Stephen Soderbergh and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” in its competition lineup.

Shortly after the Lido lineup was unveiled Thursday, the organization, which represents movie theater operators in 38 European territories, including Italy, fired off a statement calling for these star-studded titles from the U.S. streaming giant “to get a full theatrical release.” 

If instead these films become available only on Netflix “or receive only a limited ‘technical’ release in cinemas,” the statement said, then Venice’s “festival/award selection becomes in truth only a marketing tool whereby most of the potential audience is denied access to a wealth of great content.”

Last year was a banner year for Netflix in Venice, which had six titles on the Lido. Two of them, “Sulla Mia Pelle” and “Roma,” had a limited run in Italian movie theaters, which prompted some pushback.

Venice artistic chief Alberto Barbera has enthusiastically embraced Netflix and repeatedly said that it is not up to a festival director to get involved in distribution issues.

There are three Netflix titles in Venice this year, the third one being Australian helmer David Michod’s “The King,” a starry adaptation of several Shakespeare plays.

Cannes does not include Netflix movies in its main competition because of fierce opposition from French exhibitors who sit on its board and also because of France’s stringent windowing policies. Berlin this year included its first Netflix movie in competition, which sparked anger from some from local exhibitors.

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