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Thierry Fremaux, general delegate of Cannes Film Festival, has praised Apple’s release strategy on Killers Of The Flower Moon and Napoleon.

Speaking at a conversation event at Goteborg Film Festival with Swedish director Ruben Ostlund, Fremaux said, “What Apple have done with the Martin Scorsese film and the Ridley Scott film, they have made a lot of money at the box office, and now the films are on the platforms. Which to me is the perfect reflection of our times.”

Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon has grossed over $156m worldwide since its release last October; while Scott’s Napoleon has made over $218m since November. Napoleon went up on Apple TV+ on January 9 this year; with Killers following suit on January 12. 

Fremaux said such a strategy does not harm the theatrical exhibition sector, either in France – where he noted its strength – or elsewhere. “We still have theatres all over the world,” said Fremaux.

Ostlund and Fremaux participated in the one-hour session, moderated by Jonas Holmberg, in his last edition as Goteborg director. 

On the topic of streamers, Fremaux recalled having two Netflix films in Competition in 2017; before the festival set its rule that all Competition titles must have a theatrical release. “For us, it was important that this discussion could take place in Cannes – and it took place even quite violently,” said Fremaux. “But it was a way for us to make a dialogue with the platforms.” 

Fremaux singled out US director David Fincher as someone who previously played in Cannes – with Zodiac in 2007 – but whose career has taken a different direction through his work with the streamers, according to the general delegate. “He’s still a great filmmaker; he doesn’t exist at the same level in our hearts and minds as in the past,” said Fremaux. “He wants to work alone, quiet, making his films for platforms.” Fincher’s hitman drama The Killer, a Netflix title, debuted in Venice last September.

“It’s a different world; we miss him,” said Fremaux. “We want him back in our world.”

Biggest walkout

Two-time Palme d’Or winner Ostlund was in a characteristically playful mood when he said he is aiming for “the biggest walkout in the history of Cannes film festival” with his next film.

Ostlund has spoken at length about his proposed next feature, The Entertainment System Is Down, which will take place on a long-haul flight on which the entertainment system stops working, forcing the passengers to engage with each other.

For the scene causing a potential walkout, two children are forced to share one iPad by their father, for 10 minutes each at a time. Ostlund said he will include the full 10 minutes when one child is bored without the iPad. “I want the audience to understand at this point that it’s you that are challenged,” said the director.

“Don’t say too much!” Fremaux advised Ostlund, to which the director responded “I love to pitch my films.”

The relevance and role of film festivals was the key theme of the Goteborg discussion, with Fremaux comparing film festivals to music festivals, plus sporting events like the football World Cup, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games – the latter two of which will take place in France this year, two months after Cannes. 

“The duty of a film festival is the duty of a music festival, the World Cup, or the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Fremaux. “The gold is the films, the art of cinema; but it’s very important to build something beyond that.

“The main duty [of a film festival] is to put cinema as an art in front of the world,” he continued. He also made joking reference to an incident at last year’s Cannes, when he had a brief altercation with a police officer on the Croisette during the festival.

“My role is sometimes to talk to the press – or to fight with a policeman,” joked Fremaux. “But really we are working for them – for the auteurs, the audience, the journalists.” 

Fremaux has been head of Cannes since 2001, first as artistic delegate then as general delegate since 2007; with Ostlund winning both of his Palme d’Ors in this time, in 2017 for The Square and 2022 for Triangle Of Sadness.

“I want him to have his third Palme d’Or because of the way he is on stage,” joked Fremaux, who suggested he was less keen on those who simply take the stage and say “Merci”.

Goteborg runs until Sunday, February 4.

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