There’s no question that promotional spending and big-star appearances were sharply down during this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The U.S. film industry investment was the lowest I’ve ever observed, and I’ve been coming here for 18 years. (My first visit was in ’92.). No big press lunches, relatively few parties, a reduction in advertising and signage along the Croisette, and, as noted, relatively few big-name actors.

You could feel it everywhere. The thunder, spirit and steam behind this legendary gathering just wasn’t as strong.

The festival’s hard line in the Netflix dispute was a HUGE mistake. Fewer journalists would be decrying the end of this festival’s heft and influence if Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma, Paul Greengrass‘s Norway and Orson WellesThe Other Side of the Wind had premiered here.

Face it — Cannes is essentially reverting to being a prestigious launch pad for the Best European, Middle Eastern and Asian films. With some exceptions, big-time American distributors seem to have more or less washed their hands.

From here on Cannes will be regarded more as a luxury retreat for dedicated cineastes (which is fine) and less of an essential investment for industry-driven columnists like myself. I’m not saying I’m not coming next year, but I’ll be thinking long and hard before I commit.