By Rhonda Richford , Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter
After years of being snubbed by the world’s most important film festival, the streaming giant has finally broken through. The official selection for the 70th edition of the Cannes film festival will include two Netflix original films: the monster movie Okja from acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer) and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), an Adam Sandler film from director Noah Baumbach.
Both will screen in the official competition and have their world premieres at the Cannes festival, which runs May 17-May 28. They will both launch on Netflix worldwide later in this year.
“The Cannes Film Festival’s commitment to giving an exceptional platform to distinct stories from the world’s most acclaimed auteurs is second to none,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to premiere two of our highly anticipated films from directors Noah Baumbach and Bong Joon Ho in this prestigious forum.”
Ahead of the announcement on Thursday, many had speculated that Netflix’s War Machine, the Brad Pitt-starrer from Animal Kingdom director David Michod, might make the Cannes cut. But sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the film, a parody based on the rise and fall of U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, had not been submitted to the Cannes festival for consideration.
Until now, Cannes has officially snubbed Netflix, saying the company’s online-first approach to film releases bypasses cinemas and should be discouraged. It is notable that both Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories will have theatrical releases.
Boon Joon-Ho’s sci-fi fantasy film, about a girl who risks everything to prevent a company from capturing her friend, a massive hairy beast, will get a theatrical bow in Korea and the U.S. Korea’s Ahn Seo-hyun stars, alongside Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, and Paul Dano. The Meyerowitz Stories, which stars Sandler, Ben Stiller, Elizabeth Marvel, Grace Van Patten, and Emma Thompson in an intergenerational tale of adult siblings contending with the influence of their aging father (Dustin Hoffman), is also set to have a limited theatrical bow in the U.S..
Amazon, which regularly releases its films in theaters before putting them online and this year won Oscars for Manchester By the Sea and The Salesman — was already embraced by Cannes. Last year, there were five Amazon titles in the Cannes lineup, including Woody Allen‘s opening night film, Cafe Society.
Announcing this year’s lineup, Cannes Festival director Thierry Fremaux on Thursday acknowledged that “there are two new players — Amazon and Netflix” on the film scene and said they both provide “opportunities for producers and for festivals.”
Fremaux also appeared to back down from Cannes’ hard line on theatrical releases. Noting that the festival will this year be screening TV series for the first time, he argued that whatever the platform they were released on, the titles selected for Cannes represented directors “using the classic art of cinema” to tell stories.
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