Will Smith Defends Netflix As Cannes Streaming Debate Rages

19 May, 2017, 23:14 | Author: Warren Cooper

The Cannes Film Festival has never had a juror quite like Will Smith, who strode into the Palais to roars of applause that brought to mind the premiere of one of his action movies (think "MIB in Paris").

Online giant Netflix has caused a furor in Cannes for refusing to commit to a traditional theatrical release in France of the two films prior to online distribution.

Will Smith (R) and member of the Feature Film jury Jessica Chastain for the screening of the film "Ismael's Ghosts" (Les Fantomes d'Ismael) during the opening ceremony of the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival. On Wednesday, director Pedro Almodóvar, who's presiding over this year's competition jury, made a controversial statement regarding the inclusion of Netflix films in the festival. "All this doesn't mean I'm not open or don't celebrate the new technologies". There are movies that are not on a screen within 8,000 miles.

Jury president Pedro Almodovar, from left, jury members Jessica Chastain and Will Smith pose for photographers during the photo call for the Jury at the 70th worldwide film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May.

"I personally do not conceive, not only the Palme d'Or, any other prize being given to a film and not being able to see this film on a big screen", Almodovar said, according to Variety.

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"This is a huge opportunity for me", Smith said in an interview before the press conference began.

Smith rose to the defence of Netflix, saying he uses the service at home and his family also enjoy regular visits to movie theatres.

Others in the running for top honors include "Happy End", another film set against the backdrop of the migrant crisis by "Amour" director Michael Haneke, who is seeking a record-breaking third Palme d'Or. "There's very little cross between going to the cinema and watching what they watch on Netflix". While Cannes is one of the most recognizable names in film, numerous movies that compete (and win) at the festival are foreign, and thus do not generate the same viewership domestically as those that originate in the United States. "You really have to have the feeling of being humble and small compared to the big screen", he added. In my home Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit - [they] watch films they otherwise wouldn't have seen.

Netflix, which streams films and television shows to subscribers, has two of the hottest movies in contention for the Palme d'Or - its first time in competition at the festival that France boasts is the greatest in the world. "Netflix has done nothing but broaden my children's global cinematic comprehension". Neither won any prizes, unless you count the Palme Dog awarded to Nellie, the bulldog in Paterson.

"So they have to find a French exhibitor willing to do a day-and-date vanity release or bow out of future Competition involvement?" asked Charlie Lyne, the director of the documentaries Being Clueless and Fear Itself.

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