CANNES, France – Pedro Almodovar and Will Smith offered differing opinions on Netflix in a press conference on opening day at the Cannes Film Festival.
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Almodovar, a longtime Cannes regular, is president of the jury that will decide the Palme d'Or. Smith is also a juror. Ahead of the festival, organizers announced that next year, streaming-only films will not be selected in Cannes' competition lineup — a move applauded by French theaters and decried by Netflix.
Almodovar relayed his feelings about Netflix in a prepared statement he read Wednesday. Smith, who stars in Netflix's upcoming "Bright," gave his opinion shortly after. Here are their comments:
Digital platforms are a new way to offer work, which in itself are enriching, But these new forms should not take the place of existing forms, like movies. They should not alter the habits of viewers and I think that's the question of today. For me, the only solution is that the new platforms should respect and obey the existing rules that are already adopted and respected by the existing networks. And I think this is the only way to make them survive.
I personally cannot conceive of not only the Palme d'Or, but any other prize, being given to a film and then being unable to see this film on a large screen. But this does not mean that I am not open and I do not respect and celebrate the new technologies and the possibilities that they offer us. I do acknowledge them, but as long as I am alive, I will be fighting for one thing that I'm afraid the new generation is not aware of: the capacity for hypnosis of the large screen for a viewer.
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I think what really determines the first viewing of a film for every spectator is the size of the screen on which you see it. The size should not be smaller than the chair on which you're sitting. It should not be part of your everyday setting. You must feel small and humble in front of the image that is here to capture you.
I just wanted to say I have a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old and a 24-year-old at home, and they go to the movies twice a week and they watch Netflix. There's very little cross between going to the cinema and watching what they watch on Netflix. In my home, and I don't know other people's homes, but in my home, Netflix has absolutely no effect on what they go to a movie theater to watch. They go to a movie theater to be humbled in front of certain images, and there's other films that they prefer to watch at home.
It's not as if they would've gone to the cinema if it wasn't on Netflix. It's two completely different forms of entertainment. In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit, because they get to watch films that they never even would've seen. Netflix brings a great connectivity for them to the world. They get to see movies that aren't on a screen within 8,000 miles of them. And now they get to find those artists and they look them up online and they make contact. There's this whole underground world of artists that gets born from that kind of connectivity. It's done nothing but broaden my children's cinematic, global comprehension.