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Pretty good prank: promoting The Emoji Movie at Cannes

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The Cannes Film Festival is really grappling with change this year

emoji movie

Sony is making a habit of trolling the Cannes Film Festival, Deadline reports. Following up last year’s stunt promotion for The Angry Birds Movie, the studio will mark the day before this year’s festival with an event promoting Anthony Leondis’ The Emoji Movie.

The Emoji Movie star T.J. Miller (Deadpool, Silicon Valley), will host an event outside the Carlton hotel, at the heart of the festival, just as the international trailer debuts online. The hope, it seems, is that journalists and industry types who are in town a little early will have nothing better to do than go learn a bit about the animated film, which is due out July 28th and takes place in a city called Textopolis. It seems like an okay plan, and also like a playful middle_finger_emoji.jpg to the notoriously traditional festival.

Sony doesn’t have any films competing in this year’s festival, so the stunt will be essentially its only presence at Cannes.

Sending The Emoji Movie to the 2017 festival is slightly funnier than it would be any other year, given Cannes’ doubling down on pretension in the last month. The festival has been involved in a brouhaha over two Netflix films entering the competition without scheduling theatrical releases in France. The big question being, of course, is that fair? Irritated board members managed to get the rules changed to exclude Netflix from the 2018 festival — with support from the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF), which questioned whether a movie is even actually a movie if it doesn’t play in French theaters.

In an incredibly nerdy content distribution feud, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, Cannes, and the FNCF have been lobbing somewhat snarky missives at each other through the press for the last several weeks, all trying to get the sharpest last word on whether the future is streaming or the theater is sacred or if Netflix is just trying to avoid paying taxes or if the FNCF is just a bunch of snobs.

Today, Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-Ho, whose Netflix-produced feature Okja is set to compete at the festival, addressed the controversy at a presentation in Seoul. He pointed out that streaming services and movie theaters will coexist, obviously, and said he doesn’t take the debate seriously at all: “I am sure Ted [Sarandos] goes to theaters to watch movies with his family, while the members of the [French film board] surely have Netflix accounts at home.”

So, for this year, at least, Cannes will have to stomach Netflix’s presence, as well as whatever “app-venture” Sony has planned. And next year — though streaming services will likely be out of the running for the Palme d’Or — nothing can stop Sony from turning the whole city into a huge brand activation promoting its live-action Barbie movie. The future, for better or worse, does not stop for anyone.