Netflix Joins Apple in Skipping SXSW Amid Coronavirus Concerns


Dozens of speakers from Facebook as well as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had previously pulled out of the upcoming Austin-based event. WarnerMedia also now joins the list.

Netflix is joining other major technology and entertainment companies in canceling its plans for SXSW amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. 

The streamer had planned to screen five films at the festival, including LA Originals, and had a panel scheduled for March 15 in which Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones would discuss the series #BlackExcellence.

Netflix’s decision to skip the event, which is scheduled to take place March 13-22 in Austin, follows a similar move by Apple on Wednesday afternoon.

The tech giant’s video group has also cancelled its activities at the event, sources close to the company tell THR, forgoing several premieres that were scheduled for the event, including the Spike Jonze feature Beastie Boys Story and the series Central Park and Home. Apple was also set to screen Boys State, which it acquired out of Sundance with partner A24. A conversation with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon about their Apple series, Little America, has also been canceled. 

Netflix and Apple joins Twitter, Facebook and Amazon Studios in deciding to skip the annual festival. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is among the most high-profile speakers to decide not to attend. Meanwhile, Facebook had around 12 people committed to panels. 

On Thursday, WarnerMedia also announced that it would cancel its activations at the festival, with a spokesman telling THR, “As a precaution, WarnerMedia has decided it best not to move forward with activations at SXSW. We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin next year.” The company has yet to say whether its panelists will also be skipping the event. Currently, WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is scheduled to sit down with MediaLink’s Michael Kassan, and Watchmen showrunner Damon Lindelof is set to talk about the show’s music with composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

On Friday, Paramount announced that The Lovebirds actors Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani would be skipping the fest. The film, however, is still scheduled to screen at SXSW, though the studio said it would refocus its press efforts in Los Angeles. Nanjiani, whose wife Emily V. Gordon is immunocompromised, has been vocal on twitter about needing to be extra careful in avoiding crowds right now.

Also on Friday, Comedy Central and Paramount Network revealed they’d be pulling their presence at SXSW. The ViacomCBS-owned companies were set to have a “Women Who Run the Shows” panel with The Daily Show‘s Jen Flanz, 2 Dope Queens‘ Phoebe Robinson and Comedy Central exec Sarah Babineau that will no longer take place. In addition, Daily Show correspondent Jaboukie Young-White will not speak, and the Yellowstone activation and Comedy Central “Backyard Bash” party have been canceled.

As of Monday, the event was still scheduled to take place, with organizers saying at the time that they were “working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event.” There have been 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Texas, where the fest is held each year. 

March 5, 8 a.m. Updated to include WarnerMedia statement.

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