Despite the hopes of Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux, Martin Scorsese’s upcoming gangster film The Irishmam will not be screening at the prestigious international fest this May.
The film, which digitally de-ages stars Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci for somewhere near half of its runtime, is still undergoing all of its ambitious, extensive visual effect work to accomplish that. Instead, the film will premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September at the start of the 2019 awards season.
If it had been ready, a Cannes screening for the film would have flown somewhat in the face of the stance that the festival has recently adopted towards films from Netflix, and by extension, other streaming services.
Although Netflix did premier two films at the festival in 2017 – Okja and The Meyewitz Stories (New And Selected) – they were effectively locked out of the festival last year due to feedback from French theater owners. In France there is a 36-month window between a film’s theatrical release and when it can become available via online streaming services. Theater owners weren’t happy that the Cannes Festival hosted those two Netflix premiers in 2017, in essence endorsing the short, sometime nearly non-existent space between when Netflix has a film in theaters before it premiers on their service. It was this backlash that caused the Festival and Netflix to part ways last year, with Netflix taking Alfonso Cauron’s Roma to Venice where it nabbed that festival’s top honor, the Golden Lion.
In the meantime, though, Variety reports that Sarandos and Fremaux remain cordial and have been quietly talking about solutions that would enable Netflix to return to Cannes in a way that would not create a new furor with French exhibitors. And with Netflix seemingly on a roll with landing top talent for projects, it seems like sooner or later the Cannes Film Festival will relent, if only to have the prestige of those films on their schedule.