Italy is to present a mandatory delay between screening Italian films in theaters and be shown on streaming services like Netflix, with the aim of protecting its local film industry.
The law comes after the thorny subject bred its head at the Venice Film Festival this year, where some movies came from US streaming awards, Netflix or Amazon, including the winner of the Golden Lion of the festival "Rome".
Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron was the first of Netflix to win a major prize at the festival. Thanks to the festival's success, it will begin releasing theaters around the world on November 21 and then on Netflix on December 14.
In contrast, the Cannes Film Festival of France chose only to accept films with a guaranteed cinema release, with the aim of protecting the theaters.
French law says there must be a period of 36 months between the time the movie is shown in theaters and when it can be viewed by streaming or on-demand subscription service (SVOD).
The result is that streaming producers have to wait 36 months before they can view their movies on their platform if they also show them in theaters.
As a result, the Venice Festival drew several famous directors with products to flow, including the Cohn brothers, Paul Greengrass and Quaron, who could not compete with Cannes, and caused rivalry among many in the Italian film industry.
They attacked what they saw as an attack on movie theaters, saying that each festival winner should be available to the general public more than just Netflix subscribers.
The Italian film industry turned to Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli to rule on this matter and introduce a law that establishes a "statutory window" between cinema and the liberation of the current.
France's 36-month condition is the most rigorous in the world, with most other countries deciding on their own, or allowing studios, producers and broadcasters to negotiate on a case-by-case basis.
Bonsoli, in a five-star anti-establishment movement, announced this week the new law, already committed by the Italian press, "Anti-Netflix," which requires all Italian films to be shown in theaters before they flow.
The law anchors the current practice of delay of 105 days and adds some flexibility, as the delay can be cut to 60 days for films shown in fewer than 80 theaters or less than 50,000 people in the first three weeks.
"With this order, we are pushing some movies to go directly, or more quickly, towards easier commercialization," Bonisoli said.
At the same time "it is important to protect the theaters, which to maintain the need for films needed that can ensure income."
The head of the Italian association Agis, Carlo Fontana, said the new law protects against "unfair competition (from streaming services), which could have created a dangerous cycle."
"Running giants such as Netflix are making a lot of money in Italy without creating jobs, while their (budget) policies are far from transparent," said Francesco Scotelli, the former mayor of Rome who runs Italian cinema and the Orkist association.
Nevertheless, he told the newspaper "Il Massagro": "Blocking Netflix's path or other platforms, which will only increase in number, is an illusion as useless."
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