The inevitable has finally happened: coronavirus has canned Cannes. The Cannes Film Festival said Thursday it is postponing its 2020 edition, marking one of the biggest business and entertainment event casualties of the virus. Organizers said they are now eyeing dates in late June to early July instead of their traditional mid-May slot.
Here’s the statement from the festival:
At this time of global health crisis, our thoughts go to the victims of the COVID-19 and we express our solidarity with all of those who are fighting the disease.
Today, we have made the following decision : The Festival de Cannes cannot be held on the scheduled dates, from May 12 to 23. Several options are considered in order to preserve its running, the main one being a simple postponement, in Cannes, until the end of June-beginning of July, 2020.
As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes’ City Hall as well as with the Festival’s Board Members, Film industry professionals and all the partners of the event.
Until now, Cannes has tried to maintain a business-as-usual approach and was considering movies for selection. But in recent weeks events in France such as Series Mania and MipTV have cancelled and the shifting of the world’s biggest film festival felt inevitable as the gravity of the pandemic becomes starker by the day. France is currently in lockdown and has recorded thousands of cases of the coronavirus.
The Cannes Marché has told us today that it will only run alongside the festival and won’t take place as a separate virtual market in May, as was suggested as a possibility earlier this week. The virtual element will run alongside the festival in June/July for those who are unable to attend.
The CAA-led coalition of agencies and sellers who have been looking into a virtual market contingency plan will aim to attend the Riviera festival in June/July as their preferred option. But should the festival not go ahead they will have a virtual market scenario in the works as a potential alternative. There are also discussions underway with fall festivals about bolstering their market potential should Cannes not happen.
A potential early July date for Cannes would move it closer to Venice and Toronto, which could create potential tension and interesting possibilities.
Cannes is coming off a banner year having hosted movies including eventual Oscar Best Picture winner Parasite, and eventual Oscar-nominated films Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pain and Glory and Les Miserables. The confab remains one of the most lucrative, well-attended and buzzy platforms for launching movies.
The festival hasn’t had to cancel an edition since socio-economic protests hampered the 1968 festival and that was only halfway through the event. In 2003, SARS resulted in lighter attendance from Asia, but it has been 70 years since a Cannes Film Festival didn’t happen at all.
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