Both films were shortlisted by the festival with full knowledge of the company's policy to reserve the rights of their movies for streaming. "It should not be part of your everyday setting", said the Spanish filmmaker.
In France, rules state that once a film has had a cinema release, it can not be streamed online for three years - which is too long for subscribers to wait, says the streaming service.
The Cannes film festival kicked off with its traditional lashings of glamour on Wednesday (May 17), despite a row over American streaming giant Netflix overshadowing the 70th birthday of the world's biggest cinema gathering. He said younger generations in particular were losing touch with "the capacity of hypnosis of a large screen for a viewer". "They said that movies would become obsolete after TV came out, but they still co-exist", he said. "They get to see films they wouldn't have otherwise seen".
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings responded to that rule change on Facebook.
"They go to the movie theater to be humbled in front of certain images and there's other films that they prefer to watch at home and there's really little to no cross".
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar is leading the jury charged with picking a victor among the 19 films vying for the coveted Palme d'Or top prize, on a panel that also includes Smith, "Interstellar" star Jessica Chastain, and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.More news: Wizards put up Wall to bring down Celtics in heated playoff
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In truth, most Cannes watchers believe that, following the organisers ruling, either film would need to be immeasurably superior to its competitors to take the top prize.
Of course being included in the original Netflix movies 2017 list means that Netflix users can also stream "Okja" on any device that's capable of running the service. Notably, as Variety reported in 2015, four US movie theater chains refused to screen Cary Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation because the film was to be released in theaters and on Netflix simultaneously, rather than abiding by the traditional 90-day delay for home debut.
That seemed to be the last word - until Smith chimed in a few minutes later, launching into a defense of Netflix, as it related to the viewing habits of his three kids. With Netflix they get the benefit to watch what they never would have seen, it brings great connectivity to them to the world.
But Smith said Netflix was not a threat to movie theaters, as people watched streaming video and also went to the cinema.
"The Festival de Cannes is aware of the anxiety aroused by the absence of the release in theatres of those films in France", the statement added. Chastain likewise echoed her honour at being surrounded by fellow artists, saying she hoped they would "open my mind and heart in unexpected ways". "Netflix has done nothing but broaden my children's global cinematic comprehension".