Italy rolls out 'anti-Netflix' law to protect local film industry

ROME (AFP) – Italy is to introduce an obligatory delay between Italian films screening in cinemas and being shown on streaming services like Netflix, in a bid to protect its domestic movie industry.

The law – billed as “anti-Netflix” by the Italian press – comes after the thorny issue reared its head at this year’s Venice Film Festival, where several movies came from streaming giants, including the Golden Lion winner Roma.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron’s movie was the first by Netflix to win a major festival prize. Thanks to its success, it will start being released in theatres around the world on Nov 21 and then on Netflix on Dec 14.

In contrast, France’s Cannes Film Festival opted only to accept films with a guaranteed cinema release, in a bid to protect theatres.

French law says there must be a 36-month interval between when a film is shown in theatres and when it can be shown by a streaming service.

As a result, the Venice festival drew several famous directors with made-for-streaming products, including the Coen brothers, Paul Greengrass and Cuaron, who could not compete at Cannes, drawing ire from many in Italy’s film industry.

They slammed what they saw as an attack on theatres, saying that any festival winner should be available to a broader public than just Netflix subscribers.

Italy’s film industry appealed to Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli to rule on the matter and introduce a law stipulating a “statutory window”.

The new law enshrines the current practice of a 105-day delay and adds some flexibility, as the delay can be slashed to 60 days for films shown in fewer than 80 cinemas or viewed by fewer than 50,000 people in the first three weeks.

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