The inevitable has finally happened: coronavirus has canned Cannes. The Cannes Film Festival said Thursday it is postponing its 2020 edition, marking one of the biggest business and entertainment event cancellations due to the virus. Organizers said they are now eyeing dates in late June to early July.
Here’s the statement from the festival:
At this time of global health crisis, our thoughts go to the victims of the COVID-19 and we express our solidarity with all of those who are fighting the disease.
Today, we have made the following decision: The Festival de Cannes cannot be held on the scheduled dates, from May 12 to 23. Several options are considered in order to preserve its running, the main one being a simple postponement, in Cannes, until the end of June-beginning of July, 2020.
As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known, in accordance with our ongoing consultation with the French Government and Cannes’ City Hall as well as with the Festival’s Board Members, Film industry professionals and all the partners of the event.
Until now, Cannes has tried to maintain a business-as-usual approach and was considering movies for selection. But in recent weeks events in France such as Series Mania and MipTV have canceled and the shifting of the world’s biggest film festival felt inevitable as the gravity of the pandemic becomes starker by the day. France is currently in lockdown and has recorded thousands of cases of the coronavirus.
Cannes is coming off a banner year having hosted movies including eventual Oscar Best Picture winner “Parasite,” and eventual Oscar-nominated films “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Pain and Glory” and “Les Miserables.” The confab remains one of the most lucrative, well-attended and buzzy platforms for launching movies.
The festival hasn’t had to cancel an edition since socio-economic protests hampered the 1968 festival and that was only halfway through the event. In 2003, SARS resulted in lighter attendance from Asia, but it has been 70 years since a Cannes Film Festival didn’t happen at all.
It remains to be seen whether Cannes or anyone else will run a virtual market in May, as has been discussed and announced in recent days. Our understanding is that Cannes is highly unlikely to do so and would hold back its market to run alongside its festival.
A potential early July date for Cannes would move it closer to Venice and Toronto, which could create interesting tensions and possibilities.