The 70th Cannes Film Festival is opening Wednesday under sunny Cote D'Azur skies, heavy security and widespread unease in the movie industry. Netflix, along with Amazon, has been an increasingly powerful player at film festivals, actively acquiring films and using festivals as glitzy worldwide launchpads for its movies.
The Spanish director, who has had five films in the competition since 1999 - most recently Julieta past year - was asked by a journalist if he would rather have his films seen in 190 countries (i.e., on a streaming service) or win a Palme d'Or.
He added: "I personally don't perceive the Palme d'Or [should be] given to a film that is then not seen on the big screen".
"I recently saw a French movie from the 1960s in which a character lamented, "Cinema is all doomed because of TV", but look what is happening now", he said.
Bong Joon-ho's Okja and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories are up for the prize, but critics have hit out at their inclusion and a new rule has been introduced for next year requiring films to have had theatrical distribution in French cinemas. I do acknowledge them, but as long as I am alive, I will be fighting for one thing that I'm afraid the new generation is not aware of: the capacity for hypnosis of the large screen for a viewer.
The Cannes Film Festival has never had a juror quite like Will Smith, who strode into the Palais to roars of applause that brought to mind the premiere of one of his action movies (think "MIB in Paris").
Jury members Jessica Chastain, right, and Will Smith greet each other upon arrival at the photo call for the Jury at the 70th worldwide film festival, Cannes, southern France, Tuesday, May 16, 2017.More news: Trump denies asking Comey to drop probe, decries 'witch hunt'
The online giant has refused to show two of its movies in the running for the Palme d'Or in French movie theatres, sparking a huge row that threatens to overshadow the world's top film festival, which starts officially late Wednesday.
70th Cannes Film Festival - Opening ceremony and screening of the film "Les fantomes d'Ismael" (Ismael's Ghosts) out of competition - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France.
According to Kim Woo-taek, chief executive of NEW, the movie will play an open run in domestic theaters. When he was asked, Smith said: "It's two completely different forms of entertainment they go for".
Actor Smith, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of boxer Muhammad Ali, launched a spirited defence of Netflix, saying it "broadens my children's cinematic global comprehension".
"In my house, Netflix has been nothing but an absolute benefit", Smith said.
But Smith said Netflix was not a threat to movie theaters, as people watched streaming video and also went to the cinema.
Who is that - a celebrity photographer in the photographer pen at the first official photocall of the Cannes Film Festival 2017.