Cannes plans to shut Netflix films out of next year’s competition to, I guess, reenact, in a transatlantic version, the trail of tears that is the doomed U.S. “window” system of releasing content. This is the distribution arrangement that delayed studio-funded movies from appearing on TV, video on demand and streaming services until after their movie theater and DVD runs. I’m all in favor of theatrical runs because there’s nothing more thrilling than emerging from a movie theater with popcorn stuck to your clothes and that secret conviction that you and Superman vanquished the Kryptonite monster together. I’m all for it, unless it means that viewers have to wait forever to see the dang film on Netflix or Amazon or whatever.
Yes, the French film industry benefits from theatrical revenues, but restricting films to certain platforms during special “windows” doesn’t suit consumers and is bad for the kind of international and independent films that Cannes celebrates. If you hold a film ransom in a theater, we are going to forget that we vowed to see it when the YouTube trailer popped up three years ago.
U.S. movie ticket sales have declined every year since 2013, when streaming services got serious about making content yet Americans watch a lot more content at home, and that trend won’t reverse itself unless we break the Internet. Better to have a movie theater run and allow simultaneous streaming at a premium that will benefit French filmmakers. Otherwise, your théâtres will look like that picture right there.