Last week came the announcement of the Venice Film Festival line-up, a forward-thinking and exciting list of films which went the opposite route of Cannes and embraced streaming platforms. In all, six Netflix films are set to be screened at the event and excitement amongst cinephiles was palpable last week.
One group, however, is not happy – Italy’s theater owners. Variety reports that the country’s two major exhibitors organizations (ANEC & ANEM) have issued a joint statement lashing out against Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera and vowing to fight simultaneous releases in Italy.
The reported bone of contention isn’t so much the company but one film in particular – opening night title “Sulla Mia Pelle” (“On My Skin”), an Italian police-brutality drama is set to play in several Italian cinemas on September 12th – the same day it will be made available to Netflix subscribers around the world including Italy itself.
Unlike France which has strict laws regulating release windows, Italy has no such restrictions. That’s why Andrea Occhipinti, who heads Italy’s distributors’ association, was able to negotiate a deal with Netflix to allow the film to play in Italian cinemas willing to break with the trade associations.
Occhipinti says the industry needs to adapt: “There is a changing reality. There are new players, a new modality of seeing movies….we want to prove that there is an audience that wants to see movies in theaters. [Theatrical and online] are different and compatible.”