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Cannes Report Day 1: Spike Lee Slams ‘Gangsters’ Who Run the World, Thierry Fremaux Swipes at Streamers

”Greenland: Migration“ also lands at STX, and StudioCanal sets its filming slate

How exactly did we get by in a year in which without a Cannes Film Festival, there were no standing ovations over films from European auteurs, elaborate PR stunts on the Croisette and seemingly daily controversies over the latest persona non grata?

It’s been a long two years and change since “Parasite” started its historic awards run by winning the Palme D’Or at 2019’s Cannes, becoming the first film since “Marty” to win the Palme and the Best Picture Oscar. But now that Cannes is finally back, there’s already no shortage of buzz and French-ness, not to mention even a few sales.

Jury president Spike Lee, the first Black jury president in Cannes’ history, finally made his way to the Croisette after last year’s festival was canceled. He’ll lead a jury that includes people like Melanie Laurent, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tahar Rahim and Song Kang-ho, and he touted Cannes as the “world’s greatest film festival,” reiterating how the fest launched his career with the success of “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Do The Right Thing.”

But Lee was also asked about former President Trump, about the influence of Netflix on cinema and even his memories of watching his beloved New York Knicks during the festival, saying that in the ’90s “when the Knicks were good” he flew from Nice, France, to New York to watch them play (they lost that game). He also argued that streaming platforms like Netflix, where he released his last film “Da 5 Bloods,” can “co-exist,” and it was not long ago that it was felt TV would kill the movies for good.

As for Trump however, Lee had strong words.

“This world is run by gangsters. Agent Orange, the guy in Brazil and Putin. They’re gonna do whatever they wanna do. They have no morals, no scruples. That’s the world we live in. We have to speak out against gangsters like that,” he said.

Thierry Fremaux
Photo by Andreas Rentz (Getty Images)

Thierry Frémaux Asks Press to “Give Me a Name”

The drama and back and forth between Cannes’ artistic director Thierry Frémaux and Netflix has been well documented, and in a press conference ahead of the festival on Monday, Frémaux put more fuel on the fire when he challenged journalists to name a single auteur director who has been discovered and emerged by a streaming platform. “Not yet,” Frémaux argued.

“We just celebrated last year the 125 years of the invention of cinema. So platforms, it’s, let’s say, 10 years? So let’s see, in more than one century, [if] we will celebrate those platforms. And for now, the platforms, they are they are recruiting only filmmakers coming from cinema,” he said, citing names like David Fincher who have made the jump to streaming. “I’m saying that because we — the Cannes Film Festival, the other festivals – our mission is to discover, is to put new names on the maps. And it’s what we do. So I’m not sure that even Netflix or whoever, they can skip the Cannes Film Festival.”

Frémaux also reiterated Cannes’ rule this year that any films that play at the festival must open in French cinemas. And while a platform like Amazon played ball with its upcoming release of “Annette,” he wondered why Netflix could not do the same. “It’s not a very difficult rule to abide by. But Netflix does not want to abide by that rule, it doesn’t want to come out of competition — I invited them — and we talk a lot together as friends. I hope I’ll convince them one day.”

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“Greenland” (STX Films)

“Greenland” Sequel Lands at STX

STXFilms picked up the worldwide rights to “Greenland: Migration,” the sequel to the Gerard Butler action and disaster film from last year directed by Ric Roman Waugh, an individual with knowledge told TheWrap.

The original film, which STX also released, was a box office hit overseas during the pandemic, taking in $53.5 million. And while terms of the deal were not disclosed, Deadline reported that the studio paid $75 million for the film, including $25 million domestic and $50 million for international territories.

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“Paddington” (Studiocanal)

StudioCanal Sets Slate for 30th Anniversary

As part of a 30th anniversary event the production company hosted Tuesday, StudioCanal announced its filming slate through 2022, including most notably a production start date of Q2 2022 for “Paddington 3,” as well as other buzzy titles such as “War Magician,” “Cat Person,” “Baghead” and “Suddenly.”

“It’s such a great feeling to be back on the ground in Cannes for this inaugural Studiocanal event, at a moment where our industry is at a true turning point,” CEO Anna Marsh said during the event. “Opportunities are abundant, and as a result, we are entering a phase of acceleration at StudioCanal. As owners of a deep 6,000-title library, we have access to an infinite well of European IP and have the capacity to invest in ambitious projects with world-class talent and partners from all horizons. We are a global facing operation with a presence in 4 continents and a top-class team of passionate professionals. It is our mission to solidify our position as Europe’s number one storyteller in both film and television and to create content that resonates beyond our domestic borders for a worldwide audience.”    

Read TheWrap’s digital Cannes magazine here.

TheWrap Cannes issue cover