Curtain call: Netflix still gets booed at Cannes

The Economist on the controversey surrounding Netflix at Cannes Film Festival:

The controversy turns, appropriately enough for the French, on an existential question: if a film is never shown in cinemas, is it still a film? Netflix’s run at Cannes this year suggests that the majority of film types, at least, answer with a resounding “yes”. Independent film financiers, producers, directors and actors, including local ones, regard Mr Sarandos as, in effect, a Hollywood studio chief—but one who stakes big money on independent film.
Therein lies the rub. In this age of Marvel superhero sequels and Harry Potter spin-offs, indie films struggle for customers. The median return on a low-budget film at the American box office is 45 cents on the dollar. With 100m subscribers globally, Netflix uses different maths to justify investments, including whether a film works for a specific segment of customers. And it has a lot of cash. Netflix will spend more than $7bn on content this year.

45 cents on the dollar is an awful return, of course. So it's great that Netflix (and Amazon, etc) are around to pick up these films where, while the bottom line still matters, the economics are just different. The French can boo all they want, the reality is that many of these films would simply not exist in today's market without these newer players. 

Also, how fucking ridiculous is it that France requires a three year delay between when a film is shown in a theater and when it can appear on a streaming/download service. THREE YEARS!


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