Will Smith, Pedro Almodovar open testy Cannes Film Festival

Courtesy of Netflix                     'Okja

Courtesy of Netflix 'Okja

The movie has been slated for a June 29 release locally as it hits the streaming service in 190 countries on June 28.

"Set in and around Calais as the refugee crisis grows, the film is certainly not short of political relevancy", said Irish Times critic Donald Clarke, who reckons this year's line-up is "the most promising in a decade". "I will be watching wide-awake, focused to do my best".

Netflix was not mentioned in name but the new rule is clearly aimed at the US-based company that is seen as a threat to the ancient business model that the film industry operates under.

In defence of Netflix, French laws also prohibit any theatrical release from moving to a streaming service for 36 months, a wait that would make no sense for a film readily available on tablets and other small screens in the rest of the world later this year. "They said that movies would become obsolete after TV came out, but they still co-exist".

Nineteen films from around the world will be competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or award as the top movie at the festival, including productions by directors Sergei Loznitsa of Ukraine and Andrei Zvyagintsev of Russian Federation.

He added: "In my home, Netflix has had absolutely no effect on what they go to the movie theater to watch, go to the cinema to be humbled by certain images and stay home for others - no cross".

The US platform has refused to screen the two movies in French cinemas due to strict rules that mean films can not be streamed from subscription services in France until three years after their traditional box office release.

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Jake Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, will be promoting Netflix monster movie Okja, and Twilight star Robert Pattinson will be out for the premiere of bank-robber drama Good Time, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh. "Welcome to the 70th Cannes festival".

"Netflix chose to go first via the internet, so French theatres protested, and they are right, because cinema is first of all in theatres", he added.

The outcry from French cinemas was such that there were rumours the two movies would be excluded at the last minute. Smith, who stars in Netflix's upcoming "Bright", gave his opinion shortly after.

Iranian Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, whose highly-acclaimed "The Salesman" won the Best Screenplay and Best Actor awards at Cannes last year, will open this year's edition of the French film festival with a speech. In my house Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit because they get to watch films that they never would have seen.

Regarding the controversy over its limited screenings in theaters, which has brought about criticisms from the cinema industry, Sarandos said that Netflix is "not against movie theaters" and does not "mean to harm movie theaters", but rather, wishes to coexist with them. "It has broadened my children's global cinematic comprehension".

The jury's deliberations will begin tomorrow, as they watch between films each day in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or.

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