Every year I'd see those Cannes datelines and imagine reporters lounging poolside at the Hotel du Cap with a notepad in one hand and a gin-and-tonic in the other. Not this time, and probably not for a long time. Writing in the HuffPost, Rex Weiner laments on how drastic budget cuts at the two Hollywood trades will result in drastically reduced coverage of the annual film festival. This is not exactly the cause of universal regret, though it is emblematic of how far Variety, THR and Cannes itself have fallen.
While fielding a handful of reporters under the command of its new Editor-in-Chief, Tim Gray, Variety will for the first time in more than a decade be producing its daily Cannes edition entirely from its LA offices, cutting costs by paying overtime to a skeleton crew in LA working a two-week nightshift from Opening Night to the May 24th Palme d'Or awards ceremonies. Of the fifteen people THR registered with the festival press office, only four are reporters and two are film reviewers, with Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Guider holding down the fort in LA where half the show-daily will be produced.
But while the cutback in trade reporting from the field may be yet another symptom of the media's overall malaise, it also marks a tipping point for the Cannes Film Festival itself. The importance of Cannes has diminished in the film world over the years (when was the last time a Palme d'Or winner was also a hit at the US box-office?), and now the lack of serious coverage by industry journalists may prove to be its death knell.
The daily Cannes editions, printed locally and distributed all over the festival, used to generate significant dollars for the trades, which supposedly justified the caravan of reporters and editors (always seemed like a boondoggle to me). Sure, you're more likely to get a piece of news at the scene instead of on the phone from L.A. But apparently news from Cannes isn't what it used to be.