(Bloomberg) — The Cannes film festival, one of the entertainment industry’s most prestigious events, will be postponed as the coronavirus forces France into lockdown.
The festival joins a long list of events worldwide that have been scrapped because of the deadly pandemic. The Cannes gathering was slated to run May 12-23 in the French Riviera resort. Organizers are now considering pushing it to the end of June or the beginning of July.
“As soon as the development of the French and international health situation will allow us to assess the real possibility, we will make our decision known,” the Cannes team said on its website. “In the meantime, the Festival de Cannes lends its vocal support to all of those who firmly call on everyone to respect the general lockdown, and ask to show solidarity in these difficult times for the entire world.”
Cannes is considered the biggest annual event for the movie industry, trumping the Toronto, Berlin and Venice film festivals. On any given year, around 4,500 journalists are accredited to cover the event. Distribution and production deals are also struck at its parallel movie market, which will now be held online.
The French festival, which started in 1946, has a long history of celebrating auteur movies from all over the world. Last year, its top prize, La Palme d’Or, went to “Parasite,” the South Korean movie directed by Bong Joon Ho. The film went on to win the Oscar for best picture this year, stunning the Hollywood establishment.
The top sponsors for the event include jewelry brand Chopard, cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA, luxury company Kering SA and carmaker Renault SA.
The official competition of the festival has been at odds with Netflix Inc. since 2018 after deciding that any movie participating in the competition requires a theatrical release, a move that Netflix has preferred to skip so far in France.
This announcement follows the cancellation of other high-profile events so far this year, including the U.K. music festival Glastonbury and the South by Southwest conference in Texas, as well as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. France imposed a lockdown on its population on March 17 as it attempts to fight the virus.