SXSW Cancellations

Concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus strain known as COVID-19 have been sweeping the globe. The United States doesn’t have nearly as many cases as Europe and Asia, but the numbers are starting to grow, and concerns about a pandemic have prompted cautious behavior from some of the world’s biggest companies, especially when it comes to attending events with large crowds. That’s why Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Warner Media have all pulled out of the South by Southwest (SXSW) film, TV, music and tech festival, slated to start on March 13. That means all of the premieres and screenings of the movies, TV shows, and panels they were bringing to the fest have been canceled as well.

UPDATE: Starz and Lionsgate are skipping the festival too. Get the new details below with the rest of our original report.

Amazon was the first production company to pull out of SXSW yesterday afternoon, according to Variety. Their trepidation about sending employees to the festival comes from the fact that 12 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Texas, where the event takes place every year. The streaming service was planning to hold screenings for Tales From the Loop and Upload, as well as hosting a a consumer marketing activation. But all of that has now been canceled. However, two other streaming services have canceled even more.

Apple announced their departure from SXSW yesterday evening (via Deadline). Their exit has resulted in the cancellation of their screenings of the Spike Jonze-directed documentary Beastie Boys Story, as well as their new animated series Central Park from Bob’s Burgers created Loren Bouchard. Other screenings included the documentary series Home and the Sundance-selected documentary feature Boys State that the streaming service picked up with A24. On top of that, a panel about Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon and Joshuah Bearman‘s series Little America will no longer be happening.

Variety confirmed Netflix’s exit from SXSW not long after Apple dropped. That means screenings of their film Uncorked and the documentaries A Secret Love, L.A. Originals, Mucho Mucho Amor, and Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics were also canceled. Also among the axed programming was a panel with television creator and comedian Kenya Barris and actress, writer and producer Rashida Jones talking about their upcoming series #BlackExcellence.

Finally, Warner Media announced today that they’re pulling out of SXSW, and that includes their news network CNN. The media conglomerate had several activations planned for the festival. However, unlike Amazon, Netflix and Apple, the company isn’t canceling screenings of Rod Lurie‘s adaptation of The Outpost, based on Jake Tapper‘s book.

UPDATE: Starz and Lionsgate have joined the growing number of cancellations for SXSW. That means the scheduled premiere and activation for the upcoming Starz series Hightown starring Monica Raymund, James Badge Dale, Riley Voelkel, Shane Harper, Amaury Nolasco, Atkins Estimond, and Dohn Norwood has been axed. This has also resulted in the cancellation of a panel with Power creator Courtney Kemp, executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Starz President and CEO Jeffrey A. Hirsch.

Meanwhile, the Lionsgate home video titles that were planning on hosting their world premiere at SXSW will still be screened at the festival. This includes Arkansas starring Liam Hemsworth, Vivica A. Fox and Vince Vaughn, and The Quarry starring Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham. However, the actors and filmmakers will no longer be attending.

Combine all this with the fact that Facebook and Twitter have also pulled out of SXSW, and the festival may have to soon face the possibility of canceling or postponing the entire thing. But as of March 2, the festival was still planning on moving forward. In an official statement, the festival said:

“Regarding the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: SXSW is working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority.”

We’ll keep you posted on the state of SXSW. But another film festival on the horizon may be facing the same troubles.

Cannes Film Festival

Ban on Large Gatherings in France Could Impact Cannes

Variety has word that France’s ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people in confined spaces could create some major problems for the Cannes Film Festival. The country’s health minister has extended the ban through May 31, and Cannes is slated to take place May 12 through May 23. Not only does that spell trouble for screenings, but also the Cannes Film Market where lots of distribution deals are made every year.

However, a spokesperson from Cannes said they’re not concerned about the ban since nothing that happens at the festival results in the gathering of more than 5,000 people in a single confined location. But the mere presence of thousands of people attending the festival would certainly create more opportunities for COVID-19 to spread. Since France now has 377 confirmed cases of the virus with the death toll hitting six, the risk is only increasing to hold large gatherings like this

As of now Cannes still plans to proceed, but with all the complications that SXSW is dealing with, it’s bound to only get worse by the time the French film festival rolls around. Stay tuned for updates as the situation unfolds.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: