Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has regretted the streaming giant’s spat with the organisers of the Cannes Film Festival, saying “sometimes we make mistakes”. Netflix had pulled out of the famed film festival after the organisers announced a ban on films from the main competition which do not have a proper theatrical release in France.
“I know we have a reputation as a disruptor and sometimes we make mistakes. We got into a bigger situation with Cannes than we meant to,” Hastings said in Lille, northern France, during an onstage session at the Series Mania festival, reported Variety.
“I think we got into a more difficult situation with the Cannes Film Festival than we meant to because, you know, we’re not trying to disrupt the movie system; we are trying to make our members happy. We make our content for them,” he added.
Hastings also said that at least in France, Netflix would “focus now on series. Standup, docuseries as there is so much we can do without being a disruptor on the movie side”.
He also indicated the discussions with the festival organisers are underway and they are trying to find a model that “works for them and works for us”. “We love the film festival, and we still have buyers going. The festival is very sincere in trying to find a model that works for them and works for us. I’m sure over time we’ll definitely (go back).”
The ban came in response to huge controversy that erupted last year, when two Netflix films — Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories — entered the competition for the Palme d’Or without being released in cinemas.
Theatrical releases in France can be available for subscription video on demand only after a gap of 36 months and a film cannot feature in the festival without a theatrical release, making it a Catch-22 situation for streaming companies like Netflix.
This year, the streaming giant was supposed to present five features at the festival that included Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma; Paul Greengrass’ Norway; Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark; Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, a newly completed version of the film that Welles shot in the 1970s; and Morgan Neville’s They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead, a doc about the Welles film but they pulled out after the spat.
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