Instead of critics seeing films first in the Grand Lumiere at 8:30 am with black-tie gala screenings occuring later that day around 6 or 7 pm (or with Salle Debussy press screenings at 7:30 pm followed by gala screenings the next day), Fremaux said he wants gala and press screenings to happen simultaneously. That way critics, who always tweet immediately and then post reviews four or five hours after press screenings, won’t be killing the buzz on dicey or questionable films hours before they screen for the swells.
If a movie is said to be great or very good or mezzo-mezzo or shitty, the word always gets out right away in Cannes. But at least the new simultaneous screening policy means that viewers in tuxedos and gowns will henceforth see films without knowing what the often crabby critics have already said.
Critics and journalists will catch films in the Debussy theater at the same time that guests inside the main auditorium watch the evening world premieres. Fremaux told Le Film Francais that removing the early-buzz factor from morning press screenings will “revamp the attractiveness of and gloss to gala evenings…at 7 p.m., the press will see the film at the same time at Debussy, [and] the suspense will be total!”
As for films premiering at 10 pm, the press will catch them the next morning. Afternoon screenings of films selected in competition or Un Certain Regard will mix industry-ites, journo-critics and locals.
Producers are mostly happy with this new arrangement, to go by trade articles. Critics will now have to bang out some of their reviews between 10 pm and 1 am, in addition to all the other deadlines and pressures.
Good suggestion from Screen Daily‘s Fionnuala Flannagn: “Why doesn’t Cannes just impose an embargo? Every studio does it, every week, successfully. Berlin just did it, embargoing all reviews and social media until 20 minutes after the start of the first public screening and assiduously policing it. The critics love it, as we get hours to write our reviews, having seen the film that morning. The filmmakers and the films benefit, as the reviews are more measured.”
The other big changes are (a) no selfies on the red carpet and (b) the already-announced decision to begin the festival on Tuesday (or 5.8.18) instead of the usual Wednesday, and have the big awards ceremony on Saturday (or 5.19.18). Which means, as previously noted, that the annual hotshot journalist gathering at La Pizza will now happen on the evening of Monday, 5.7.18.