Ted Sarandos says Netflix is out of Cannes completely

April 14, 2018

Ted Sarandos has announced that Netflix will not be at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

The streaming service’s chief content officer says that no Netflix film will be screened across the event in May after Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of Cannes, revealed that no movie without a theatrical distribution in France would be eligible from playing in competition.

It was hoped that Netflix would still screen its’ upcoming projects out of competition, but Sarandos insists nothing from the company will be previewed.

In an interview with Variety, he said: “We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker. There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there ... Thierry announced the change in their qualification rules [that] requires a film to have distribution in France to get in, which is completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world ... The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule.”

Sarandos, 53, insists the decision is even more bewildering and disappointing because Netflix attracted a lot of positive attention at Cannes in 2017 after the screening of two films; Noah Baumbach’s ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ and Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Okja’ - which competed for the Palme d’Or.

When asked if he was shocked by the new ruling follow last year’s Netflix successes, Sarandos said: “I think they were the biggest films in the world last year with Bong Joon-ho and Noah Baumbach and the star power we were able to bring - Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, it goes on and on. We loved the festival. We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. It’s just that the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema. We are 100 per cent about the art of cinema. And by the way, every other festival in the world is too.”

Sarandos will not personally be attending Cannes this year either but he will have staff at the event looking for films to buy to be shown on Netflix.

He said: “We will have people there who are in the business of acquiring films, because many films will be there without distribution. We don’t discriminate that way.”