The lineup for the 70th Cannes Film Festival was announced a few days ago, and it included the Netflix original films Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories. To most of the world, this is indicative of the streaming service’s rising legitimacy, but to the Federation Of French Cinemas—a surprisingly powerful group that protects the interests of theatrical exhibitors—it’s practically a slap in the face. In France, the law says that on-demand services like Netflix have to wait 36 months before streaming a theatrically released film, so the Federation Of French Cinemas (FNCF) isn’t a big fan of Netflix just making movies of its own and streaming them whenever it feels like it.
This comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which adds that the FNCF says that by skipping traditional theatrical distribution, Netflix is refusing to pay certain fees to France’s National Cinema Center which undermines the country’s whole movie industry. Netflix also apparently closed its French office recently, leading some to compare it to Uber and Google in the way it tries to weasel out of regulations and tax laws. Now, the FNCF has released a statement demanding that Netflix specify whether or not Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories will get the necessary theatrical releases in France, because if not, it would “call into question their nature as a cinematographic work.”
In other words, they can’t count as real movies if they don’t get released in theaters. Cannes’ Theirry Fremaux has suggested that Netflix will start to play ball with the FNCF soon, but it hasn’t announced French theatrical runs for these two movies yet.