Will Smith

When Netflix Is Attacked at Cannes, Will Smith Steps Up

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Two of the films in competition at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival were produced by and for Netflix. It may be a watershed moment for films, given that the two movies — Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories — were produced for a TV streaming service, and not for a movie theater. At the festival’s opening press conference on May 17, renowned Spanish filmmaker and Palme d’Or prize juror Pedro Almodovar read a pre-written statement that said in part, “I personally do not conceive, not only the Palme d’Or, any other prize being given to a film and not being able to see this film on a big screen.”

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Pedro Almodovar (Laurent Emmanuel)

When Will Smith raised his voice in defense of Netflix a while later, a conversation began that reflects a seismic shift — and for some, a sobering one — in the film industry. Almodovar and Smith were each no doubt reflecting the views of many other people.

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Almodovar and Smith (Anne-Chirstine Poujoulat)

Prior to Almodovar’s statement, the mood at the press conference had been completely different. Though Cannes is always the place to see movie stars, few these days have the sheer wattage and charm of Will Smith, who had the room wrapped in the palm of his hand. “West Philadelphia is a long way from Cannes,” the star said, noting that, “I was probably 14 years old the last time I watched three movies in one day. Three movies a day is a lot!” Such is the lot of the Cannes festival juror. He also joked that he’d be trying to set a record for most outfits worn at the festival, 32, to top last year’s juror Kirsten Dunst’s 28.

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Smith and crowd crush (Loic Venance)

Almodovar claimed his stance doesn’t come from being anti-technology, saying, “All this doesn’t mean I’m not open to or don’t celebrate the new technologies. I do.” And yet another statement of his suggests otherwise. “I’ll be fighting for one thing that I’m afraid the new generation is not aware of. It’s the capacity of the hypnosis of the large screen for the viewer,” the filmmaker says. “The size [of the screen] should not be smaller than the chair on which you’re sitting. It should not be part of your everyday setting. You must feel small and humble in front of the image that’s here.” Has he not seen the gargantuan TV screens on which people watch TV these days?…

Will Smith Is Having More Fun Than Anyone in Cannes

From an afternoon press conference to the opening night festivities, the actor basically stole the show with high-fives, laughter and even a little dancing at the top of the steps outside the Palais.
Will Smith

When this year’s Cannes jury roster was announced, there was really only one head scratcher in the bunch: Will Smith.

At first glance, the actor might’ve seemed an odd choice to serve under president Pedro Almodovar for the 70th annual event, considering that none of the 40 films he’s made in his career have screened at Cannes, the most prestigious, and perhaps most discerning, film festival in the world.

But Smith, 48, who for years ranked as the biggest box-office star in the business, silenced snarky film snobs on Wednesday in the most fun way possible: Killing ’em with charisma. He clearly didn’t forget to pack his movie star charm, showing up to a series of events to kick off the film festival and winning over press, cinephiles and adoring fans everywhere he went.

Nobody is having more fun on #Cannes70 opening night than @willsmith who is loving fans, saying hi to security, posing for pics. #Cannes2017 pic.twitter.com/wMCMCGhcZv

— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) May 17, 2017

One might dare to say that Smith even stole the show on opening night at the Palais where the festival opened with Arnaud Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts. After getting out of his car, Smith was seen posing for photos with fans against the barricades on the Croisette, high-fiving others, and saying hello to security guards in the street before making his red-carpet debut to join his fellow jury members for a group photo.

<em&gtWill Smith points to something that he likes while Jessica Chastain looks on during opening night festivities at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2016. (Getty Images)</em>
Will Smith points to something that he likes while Jessica Chastain looks on during opening night…