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Media + Networks perspective: Cannes takes on Netflix in Palme d'Or row

In order to maintain dominance over Netflix, the Cannes Film Festival is changing its rules for 2018 to keep the SVOD giant out. From both commercial and creative point of view, writes Isla Analytics Strategic Planning Director Aleksandra Bosnjak, that decision does not make sense.

First, Netflix does not need theatre screening so it does not make sense to force it into theatres. They already have audience. Netflix business model relies on existing collateral rather than a new audience to be won via theatrical screenings.

For a content business, it’s critical to have new investors in production in times when film business is shrinking! Yes, the movie market is shrinking outside of a few big films produced last year. Movies are coming out of Hollywood in summer season – what does that tell you?

On a creative front, Netflix is supporting French and international content output by proactively investing hard cash in it – for example, it announced yesterday its investment in European and French sci-fi series Osmosis, an eight-episode series that will be available exclusively to Netflix subscribers around the world.

The story is beautiful, a sci-fi drama about Paris in the near future filled with romance and mystery about technology’s final frontier: love. If you have any experience in trying to distribute European content globally, you know this is fantastic news for European content producers and filmmakers. For the first time in history, there is a medium open to push European content to the next – global – level.

Studios/Hollywood have never really done it on such a profound, global scale. The fact that Netflix is de facto a platform, an aggregator of audience and streaming model, is also giving the company flexibility in terms of content and genre formats which is a great news of an army of creative European souls! My message to France – embrace Netflix!

The bottom line is that Hollywood and Cannes will have to adapt to Netflix, not vice versa. Netflix is calling shots, so traditional Hollywood will have to compete at Netflix level. That means bringing down budgets and costs, and competing for audience within the new context of multi-platform distribution.

Theatrical screenings will exist forever, but it is wrong to assume they will be the core driver of profits and above all, revenue. Finally, it will not be long until we see Facebook streaming you your favourite shows, so stay tuned for a new very platform-centric production and distribution of cinema.

I wrote about this back in 2007 and spoke about Netflix and “pipes” entry in the world of cinema at the Cannes Film Festival 2007. We are in 2017 and it is finally happening.  Well done Netflix.  Good luck Hollywood!

Aleksandra Bosnjak is Strategic Planning Director, Multiplatform Content Distribution, ISLA ANALYTICS LTD.


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