Cannes: The Burning Question On Industry Lips Is…How Can We Watch ‘Game Of Thrones’?

As U.S. and international industry descend on this year’s Cannes Film Festival against a backdrop of shifting sands for the independent film business, one question looms large above all others….how in the seven kingdoms are we going to watch Game Of Thrones?

“We’re really hoping someone will show it on a big screen,” said one sales exec. “Of course I’ll be watching,” explained another. “I’m an expert in VPNs [virtual private networks] now.”

Next week’s series finale falls bang smack in the middle of the industry’s biggest film festival and many industry here are scrambling to make sure they can watch. One U.S. industry vet we spoke to changed their flight just so they weren’t in the air at the time of transmission. Finding out who’s alive or dead via social media is the nightmare scenario after seven seasons of blood, sweat and tears.

For U.S industry, HBO Go alone won’t be enough due to geo-blocking. A VPN will be required. Many non-European industry will be in the same boat. Indeed, a few distribution execs on our flight were deep in discussion about different VPN options. Those with an HBO Europe subscription will be able to watch online and UK Sky Go and Now TV subscribers should be able to watch locally on their mobile devices or laptops thanks to new EU portability rules.

In France, GOT is available ‘live’ (at the same time it airs in U.S.) via subscription service Orange Cinema Series (OCS). The show airs on TV at 3am local time Monday morning; it’s downloadable on the service’s streaming platform soon after; and like in the UK, the OCS TV channel screens the episode again on Monday evening at 9pm local. Many in France have OCS via their Canal Plus subscriptions.

So for those without a European subscription service or who can’t get their heads around a VPN, your best bet is to become friends with an OCS subscriber. One festival regular I know has signed up to OCS but he needed a French pal’s credit card to do so.

We’ve heard about a few sales companies who will be gathering to watch the season finale next week. Don’t expect local pubs and bars to be showing it, though. Three popular Irish pubs and two local bars we called said they won’t be showing it.

Decades ago U.S. industry faced a similar dilemma when the Seinfeld finale also fell during Cannes. Harvey Weinstein organized a packed screening at the American Pavilion. Given the genuinely global reach of Game Of Thrones, wouldn’t it be fun if the festival put the finale on in a theater? Or even better, a screening on the beach.

The festival and HBO say there are no plans for any such screenings, despite the best efforts of one leading French sales executive who says he tried to convince the festival to give up just one screen for a late night live transmission. Boo.

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