Netflix release of Turkish film in cinemas stirs reactions

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The release of Yılmaz Erdoğan’s latest film “Organize İşler 2: Sazan Sarmalı” onto the international digital platform Netflix two weeks after it first appeared in Turkish cinemas has drawn anger from cinemagoers and Turkish cinema sector officials.

The film, which was released on Feb. 1 in Turkey, was released on Netflix on Feb. 15, two weeks after its release in theaters. But the move irked many people who had to pay to see the film in cinemas as well as sector representatives.

In a statement, the Film Producers’ Professional Association (FIYAB) said the film was released in movie theaters with 1,400 copies and had become a blockbuster.

“This catastrophic situation means to deceive well-intentioned moviegoers by destroying the tradition that movies meet audiences in movie theaters first. It also prevents the goals of the new cinema law. We harshly condemn this trick that will never be acceptable in the commercial life and which will cause severe destruction in the development, future, distribution system and theater management of our cinema and the entire film sector,” FİYAB said.

In the statement, the producers of the film “Organize İşler 2: Sazan Sarmalı” were called on to “stop displaying such attitude” and were warned of “very dangerous consequences” for Turkish cinema.

A statement by the Television and Cinema Movie Producers Society (TESİYAP) noted that simultaneously screening a cinema film on a digital platform would cause irreparable damage to the film industry.

“The struggle for the new cinema law is for the future of Turkish cinema. A cinema sector cannot have a future and freedom while it does not have ticket revenue and movie theater operators have economic hardship. This new situation that emerged on Feb. 15 astonished us just like the whole sector. The only thing we can say is that this is not a joint decision of TESİYAP but the commercial decision of our member Beşiktaş Culture Center [BKM]. Our society finds this decision wrong and considers it a very bad development for our national cinema,” the statement said.

Sale concealed from sector

Another statement condemning the move came from the Turkish Cinema Exhibitors Association (SİSAY).

In the statement, SİSAY officials stressed they always stood by producers.

“We provided our support during the new cinema law process, too. Even though the new law aims to protect the rights of producers rather than providing basic solutions, SİSAY always gave favorable views on every platform. However, because sanctions of the law were postponed for six months, some production companies postponed their movies to an indefinite date, which caused a big decline and an economic crisis in the sector. During this process, BKM and the co-production and distributor company of ‘Organize İşler 2: SazanSarmalı,’ the CJ Entertainment, sold the film to VOD platforms for simultaneous screening, and concealed this sale from the sector, violating ethical values,” SİSAY said in the statement, adding that it was a blow to Turkish cinema.

“The screening dates of films in cinemas and digital platforms should be different,” the statement added.

BKM defends sale

Upon the reactions, the film’s company BKM also made a statement and said that the film continues to be shown both in movie theaters and Netflix.

The company said the film will be released in 190 countries, including Turkey, through Netflix.

“We are confident that this agreement with Netflix will carry Turkish cinema to a better place,” BKM said.

“We believe that our decision to share a film of Istanbul to millions of viewers around the world will lead the way for Turkish cinema to meet audiences all around the world just like Turkish TV series and will make great contribution to the promotion of Turkish cinema. This deal with Netflix is valid only for ‘Organize İşler 2: Sazan Sarmalı’ and not other BKM movies,” the company said.

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