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Is the Cannes Film Festival adapting to the current movie industry?

The 2016 Cannes Film Festival begins on May 11, with movies including selections from Amazon, Steven Spielberg's 'The BFG' and Pedro Almodóvar's 'Julieta.'

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'Cafe Society' stars Kristen Stewart (l.) and Blake Lively (r.) as well as director Woody Allen (center) attend the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Eric Gaillard/Reuters

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The 2016 Cannes Film Festival begins today, with movies being screened at the festival including "Money Monster," "Personal Shopper," and "Loving." 

The movie opening the festival is director Woody Allen's movie "Café Society," which stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. Ms. Stewart is starring in another anticipated movie at the festival, "Shopper," as well. 

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Also appearing at the festival will be director Steven Spielberg's Roald Dahl movie "The BFG"; the comedy "The Nice Guys," which stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling; "Julieta," which is directed by Pedro Almodóvar; and director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman."

This year, many movies' release plans now include On Demand or streaming options, front and center today with Mr. Allen's film "Café Society" backed by distributor Amazon – the first time one of its movies has opened Cannes.

The prestigious festival may be willing to embrace Amazon because of the directors working for the service, according to film journalist Dana Harris. 

"Cannes' dedicated focus on auteurs can make it oddly adaptable," Ms. Harris writes for Variety. "While the industry debates what Netflix and Amazon will mean for the landscape, Cannes just wants what it wants. This year, that means five productions from Amazon, which is making its festival debut. The company’s newness as a distributor is irrelevant to Cannes; what matters is that the films are all from auteurs," including Allen; Park Chan-wook of "The Handmaiden"; and Jim Jarmusch, who helmed both "Gimme Danger" and "Paterson."

Cannes may have also welcomed Amazon, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Roxborough, because the streaming service is so far more in line with how the industry has always done things compared to, say, Netflix. Netflix’s 2015 film "Beasts of No Nation" skipped Cannes and was screened at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, among others. Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, later told the Hollywood Reporter, "We are releasing a slate of films. It’s not a festival strategy, it’s not an awards strategy. Some of the movies in that slate are awards-driven and festival-friendly films, but it’s definitely not the driver of what we’re doing ... We didn’t really target any films for Cannes, so it’s not like we had some organized effort to be in Cannes that didn’t work out, or that we were blockaded in any way."

Earlier this year, Amazon executives at CinemaCon told those at the event that their movies will be released first in theaters, a contrast to Netflix's plans. Multiple theater chains refused to screen "Beasts" in 2015 after Netflix decided to have the film debut in movie theaters and online the same day. 

"There is no suspicion about [their] love of cinema. They are good for cinema," festival director Thierry Fremaux told The Hollywood Reporter. "Amazon and the people in charge of cinema at Amazon – the people who bought Woody Allen and Nicolas Winding Refn – they are movie buffs." 


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