While Netflix has been praised for being the first and only global streamer so far to have signed a financing deal with French film orgs, a comeback at the Cannes Film Festival — in or out of competition — just isn’t in the cards for 2022.
A source familiar with Netflix’s plans confirmed to Variety that the streamer isn’t planning to world premiere its films at the festival’s 75th edition, meaning movies such as Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde,” a Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Ana de Armas, will likely be skipping the French Riviera.
Dominik recently told journalists at the Berlinale that he hoped his film would play on the Croisette, but it appears that discussions with Netflix have stalled due to Cannes’ rule, which dictates that every competing movie must have a theatrical release in France.
Netflix, meanwhile, has certainly been open to having select festival movies open in European theaters. Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-nominated “The Hand of God,” for example, premiered at Venice in September and played in Italian cinemas.
But in France, it’s (still) not as straightforward. Despite the country’s new windowing rules, once a film bows in cinemas, Netflix has to wait 15 months before launching the movie on its service. It’s a big improvement from the previous 36-month window but it’s still a deal-breaker for Netflix where Cannes is concerned.
Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux, who has a friendly relationship with Netflix’s co-CEO and CCO Ted Sarandos, has tried to talk the streamer into returning to the festival out of competition, and almost succeeded in 2020 with Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods,” but the comeback plan fell through after the festival scrapped its physical edition due to the pandemic.
Netflix was last in Cannes in 2017 with Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories.” The festival then famously changed its rules following a powerful outcry by French exhibitors demanding that competition films play in local theaters before streaming.
Although both Netflix and Cannes still hope to find a compromise in the near future that will allow for a reunion, it seems that both players have thrived with their respective strategies. Netflix has had a satisfying track record at Venice in the last few years, including in 2021 with “The Hand of God” and Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” which both earned Oscar nominations.
Cannes, meanwhile, had a banner 2021 edition with critically acclaimed gems such as Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car,” which was recently nominated for four Oscars, and Joachim Trier’s “The Worst Person in the World” competing for a pair of Oscars; and Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated documentary “Flee” vying for three Oscars. (Technically, “Flee” world premiered at virtual Sundance in 2021, but had in fact been selected for Cannes in 2020 before the fest went virtual.)
And although “Titane” didn’t make it onto the Oscar’s international feature film shortlist, the daring movie’s director Julia Ducournau has been nominated at the BAFTAs. Recent Cannes editions have also turned the spotlight on world cinema masterpieces such as Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which scored a historic best picture win along with three other Oscars after winning the Palme d’Or.
The 75th Cannes Film Festival will take place from May 17-28.