“We have a reputation as a disruptor, sometimes we make mistakes,” Hastings said, according to multiple press accounts of the talk at the ninth edition of Series Mania in Lille, France. “We got into a bigger situation with Cannes than we meant to.”
Last month, Netflix pulled out of the festival completely after difficult discussions with fest organizers. The previous year, when the streaming giant premiered Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) in the official competition, there was an outcry from exhibitors and a vigorous debate about the rightful place of streaming. Artistic Director Thierry Fremaux oversaw a rules change that would have forced any Netflix titles this year to screen out of competition and therefore be ineligible for awards. Netflix balked at that scenario and opted out entirely.
Still and all, “We love Cannes,” Hastings insisted. “We’ve been many years and have buyers going this year. They are very sincere at finding a model that works for them and us.”
One of the central sticking points, given Netflix’s preference for day-and-date releases, is France’s 36-month window between a film’s theatrical debut and its appearance on an SVOD service. Hastings refrained from publicly critiquing the long-established windowing approach, calling it “a French specific system.” He added, “It’s up to them to decide how to organize. We have no problem with the chronology, and it’s been successful for the French film industry.”