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Netflix Might Actually Release Some of Its Films in French Theaters

Celebrity Sightings in New York City - March 8, 2016Celebrity Sightings in New York City - March 8, 2016
Noah Baumbach, Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler during filming of Netflix's "The Meyerowitz Stories."Photo by Steve Sands—GC Images

Netflix is extending another olive branch to movie theater owners.

The massively popular streaming service’s chilly relationship with theater chains seems to have thawed recently, and now Netflix says it will consider a limited theatrical release in France. According to Variety, the comany confirmed on Wednesday that it might seek a limited release for the feature films The Meyerowitz Stories and Okja, two original films competing at next month’s Cannes Film Festival, coinciding with their online debut.

The decision comes after a group representing French cinemas complained about the movies’ inclusion in the Cannes festival. The films’ inclusion marks the first time that Netflix original movies have been selected to compete at the prestigious French film festival.

Earlier this month, the Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF) said that an online-only release for the two movies might “call into question their nature as a cinematographic work,” raising the question of whether the films should be shown at Cannes. The cinema owners complained that Netflix does not pay taxes to theater owners and argued that the company was skirting French laws that require movies to wait 36 months after a theatrical run before streaming online.

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On Wednesday, Netflix said in a statement that the company is considering a compromise. “We are certain that French film lovers do not want to see these films three years after the rest of the world,” the company said. The company went on to explain it is exploring theatrical distribution for the two films in France, for a limited theatrical run, on the same date as their release on Netflix.

Directed by Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer), Okja is a sci-fi drama starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal, while director Noah Baumbach’s (Frances Ha) The Meyerowitz Stories is an indie drama-comedy that stars Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler. Both films will compete for the Palme d’Or, the top cinematic price at Cannes.

Netflix has been ramping up its production of original content, in general, committing to spend more than $6 billion on over 1,000 hours of original films and television series. But in particular, the streaming site has made a push for more high-profile feature film projects, including the two competing at Cannes, as well as the highly-anticipated Will Smith sci-fi/fantasy movie Bright, which Netflix acquired for a whopping $90 million last year.

Netflix’s mission to upend Hollywood’s traditional distribution system has seen the streaming site mostly refuse to bend on its online-only preference for original content. However, the company seems to be showing interest in a more amicable relationship with movie theaters as its own film production business continues to grow. Netflix said earlier this month that it is “open to supporting the large theater chains” by agreeing to release Netflix films in theaters, but only if the films also stream on the platform simultaneously.