It was a snafu that was almost too perfect to be real. After a week or two of shots fired back and forth between the Cannes Film Festival and Netflix about cinema and streaming (the festival will bar any film without a theatrical release slated for France from Competition, starting next year), and with even the jury president Pedro Almodovar declaring that he’d be unlikely to award the Palme d’Or to a streaming only movie, all organizers had to do to make their point was to screen Bong Joon Ho‘s Netflix release, “Okja,” flawlessly to make their point. Well, they messed it up.
This morning, the press screening of “Okja” was marred when the first eight minutes were screened in the wrong aspect ratio, a situation that caused the audience to clap and make noise to get the attention of technicians, who quickly rectified the problem, and screened the film as it was intended. It left Cannes with some considerable egg on their face, and they quickly issued an apology which you can read below.
In a strange way, the incident highlighted one of the reasons why audiences are choosing to stay home instead of going to the cinema: poor projection. Wrong aspect ratios, 3D filters left on the projectors for 2D screenings (causing a noticeably dimmer image), tiny screening rooms, and no shortage of other glitches and inconsistencies make it far less compelling to gamble $15 on a ticket, when you can stay home and watch a movie on your home system that you know is going to work. Certainly, the “Okja” screening this morning far from ended the debate about theatrical viewing versus streaming.
— Festival de Cannes (@Festival_Cannes) May 19, 2017