The Netflix’s original film Okja had already touched off controversy at the Cannes Film Festival by being in competition for the Palme d’Or without having an actual theatrical release in France prior to hitting the streaming service. Its debut during the event didn’t go so well either — a technical glitch led to an onslaught of boos from the audience.
According to several sources, the film was met with boos when the Netflix logo appeared and it began to play in the wrong aspect ratio, then again when it was restarted 15 minutes later. Many attendees, however, report the film received applause at the end.
Cannes Film Festival owned up to the mistake, apologizing to the audience, the director and his team, and the producers for the glitch.
Technical glitches aside, let’s not forget the absolutely bizarre premise of the movie itself. A young girl named Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) tries desperately to stop a multinational company from kidnapping her best friend — a genetically engineered, supersized pig named Okja. In a sort of satirical look at today’s meat industry, the company wants to use beasts like Okja to produce cheap meat.
The film, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and directed by Bong Joon-Ho, features an all-star cast including Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, and Steven Yeun.
Cannes, meanwhile, has since adjusted its rules for next year to require any competing film to have a theatrical release in France. Okja, meanwhile, will stream on Netflix starting June 28, with a “limited day and date theatrical release in the U.S.” Netflix’s adds that it is “looking for theatrical partners for a day and date release in select international territories, including Korea.”
Actor Will Smith came to Netflix’s defense, relating that his own children both go to the movies and watch Netflix, with the streaming service introducing them to films they never would have otherwise seen. “There’s very little cross between going to the cinema and watching what they watch on Netflix in my home,” Smith said.