Italy is set to introduce a mandatory delay between screening Italian cinemas and demonstrating streaming services such as Netflix in an effort to protect its home cinema industry.
The law comes after the bitter problem came to this year's Venice Film Festival, where several films came from the Netflix or Amazons streaming giants of America, including the Golden Lion Festival "Roma."
The film by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron was the first Netflix film to win the festival's main prize. Thanks to the success of the festival, it will be released in theaters around the world on 21 November and then on Netflix on December 14.
By contrast, the French Cannes Film Festival has decided to accept only films with guaranteed film release to protect theaters.
French laws state that there must be a 36-month interval between viewing a movie in theaters and a time when it can be viewed by streaming or the Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service.
As a result, streaming producers have to wait for 36 months before they can show their movies on their own platform if they show them in cinemas as well.
As a result, the Venetian festival attracted several famous directors with streaming products, including the brothers Coen, Paul Greengrass and Cuaron, who could not compete in Cannes and explode the fire of many of the Italian film industry.
They struck what they considered an attack on film theaters and said that each winner of the festival should be available to the wider public than just Netflix participants.
The Italian film industry has appealed to Minister of Culture Alberto Bonisoli to take a decision on this issue and to introduce a law that sets the "legal window" between the film and the release.
The 36-month French deal is the most stringent in the world, with most other countries deciding on their own or allowing studies, producers and broadcasters to negotiate on a case-by-case basis.
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– Greater flexibility –
Bonisoli of the anti-establishment Five Star Steering announced a new law this week, which has already been printed in the Italian press as "anti-Netflix", which requires all the films made in Italy to be shown in cinemas before broadcasting.
The law enshrines the current practice of a 105-day delay and adds some flexibility because the delay can be reduced to 60 days for movies displayed in less than 80 cinemas or seen by less than 50,000 people in the first three weeks.
"By this decree we are pushing some movies to go straight or fast for easier commercialization," Bonisoli said.
At the same time, "it is important to protect theaters to keep the operational needs of films that can guarantee income."
Leader of Italian trade association Agis Carlo Fontana said the new law protects against "unfair competition (from streaming services) that could cause dangerous short-circuits."
"Streaming giants like Netflix are making a lot of money in Italy without creating jobs, while their (budget) policy is far from transparent," says former mayor of Rome, Francesco Rutelli, who heads the Italian film and audiovisual association Anica.
However, he told Il Messagero that "blocking the path of Netflix or other platforms that will only increase is as illusory as it is unnecessary."
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