A sad pall hung over Cannes, in Ebert's eyes:
While the festivals was underway, the announcement came that some studios want to release their big first-run films to On Demand TV within a month of their theatrical openings. This is bad news for theaters, bad news for what seeing a movie has traditionally meant, and bad news for adults, because that distribution pattern will lend itself to easily-promoted "high concept" trivia. I've been to 35 festivals in Cannes. I'll tell you the truth. I doubt if there will even be a Cannes Film Festival in another 35 years. If there is, it will have little to do with the kinds of films and audiences we grew up treasuring. More and more, I'm feeling it's goodbye to all that.
The slow death of theaters means the death of a lot of things, but more than anything else in my mind it means the death of a certain experience that existed nowhere else. The sense of going somewhere that wasn't your living room and doing something special, with a whole bunch of strangers.
Truth be told, the distribution system isn't the only culprit. There's the death of civil society, so that yacking on cellphones and kicking the seat in front of you suddenly became acceptable behavior (except when you were the one in the kicked seat). Maybe the distribution system is just the most obvious symptom of how things have gone wrong — or, better to say, how they now have that many less ways of going right.