Magazine article Screen International

Cannes Market Preview: Digital Giants Shake Up Old Order

Magazine article Screen International

Cannes Market Preview: Digital Giants Shake Up Old Order

Article excerpt

UPDATED: The key issues at Cannes are Netflix and Amazon, TV series in official selection and staying relevant in the small-screen era.

The disruptors-in-chief Netflix and Amazon Studios continue to shake up the old order with their furious activity and spending power.

In the case of Netflix, the streaming giant's running battle with French exhibitors has forced the hand of Cannes Film Festival delegate general Thierry Frémaux to effect a historic rule change as the storied festival celebrates its 70th anniversary.

France's cinema owners are incensed over Netflix's preferred streaming-first business model, which eschews the traditional theatrical release and is incompatible with the country's strict media chronology laws that demand a 36-month lag-time between theatrical and online distribution.

Netflix said last month it was mulling over a limited theatrical release for its first two films ever to play in competition - Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories - but that did not placate the defenders of cinema's old realm and ultimately forced Frémaux's hand. [After this piece first appeared, Netflix confirmed it would stage day-and-date limited theatrical and streaming launches for Okja and War Machine in the US and the UK.]

Within this new world, theatrical holdbacks seem superfluous. "If they don't come and buy all rights and only one territory, it's challenging to find a theatrical partner in that territory," says Jason Moring, president of Double Dutch International. "It's a bit of a push-pull scenario when you're dealing with distributors.

"We're looking at longer partnerships and slates, or some kind of first-look opportunity with distributors. It gives us a little bit more dependability in a territory. On the acquisitions side, it makes it easier for them to know they're going to get a certain level of content without having to chase after it."

In an industry where money is not in short supply, the key differentiator is premium content. Chris Lemole of Armory Films, the producer of Sundance hit Mudbound who plans to bring Mads Mikkelsen to Cannes to meet buyers on Arctic, is open to choice. "We want to make sure the movie has an audience and is capable of distribution," Lemole says. "When you see how it turns out, you know who you're going towards, but we're not necessarily shaping it towards [Netflix and Amazon]. …

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