After an explosive bout of Sundance deal-making on Sunday and Monday that demonstrated the buying power of streaming platforms, acquisitions teams were circling several available titles heading into Wednesday.
Besides a second buy from Sony Pictures Classics, buyers were catching their breath and weiging up options. In play at time of writing were, among others, Julie Taymor’s Gloria Steinem drama The Glorias starring Julianne Moore, Radha Blank’s breakout The 40-Year-Old Version, and Justin Simien’s Dear White People follow-up Bad Hair.
Hot documentaries include The Fight from Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres, Garrett Bradley’s Time, The Dissident from Bryan Fogel, and On The Record (pictured) from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering – recently back on the market after Oprah Winfrey pulled it from Apple TV+.
So far streamers have been the story of the market, stumping up eight figures here and there for titles at a time when traditional buyers have remarked on the perceived lack of theatrical playability among those films in Park City without distribution attached.
The exception has been Searchlight Pictures, which kicked things off at the weekend when it reportedly paid $12m for worldwide rights to Anton’s Rebecca Hall horror The Night House following a deal with Endeavor Content. Lionsgate also picked up US rights to Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessie Buckley and Rachel Brosnahan espionage drama Ironbark from FilmNation and UTA Independent Film Group.
However by and large it has been about the streamers. Hulu partnered with Neon on the biggest deal Sundance has ever seen, paying $17.5m and 69 cents on the wedding comedy Palm Springs. There are plans for a theatrical release this year and Parasite distributor Neon has shown what it can do when it thinks it has the goods.
However even if it underperforms at the box office, Hulu knows it has another Andy Samberg offering for its subscribers alongside Brooklyn Nine-Nine, SNL and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.
Keeping members happy and filling up mammoth pipelines appears to have been the name of the game so far. Amazon Studios was understood to have paid $12m for the world on Miramax’s coming out drama Uncle Frank starring Paul Bettany and directed by Alan Ball, after it acquired North American rights to Phyllida Lloyd’s acclaimed drama Herself starring Clare Dunne for what sources said would have been a more modest sum.
Apple and A24 teamed up on Jesse Moss’s Boys State, a widely admired documentary since it premiered in Park City that will serve to bolster the platform’s growing slate. The deal with Submarine was reported at low eight figures.
Submarine also closed a deal with Sony Pictures Classics for World Cinema Documentary Competition selection The Truffle Hunters, which has won admirers and is directed by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw.
Monday brought the world premiere of Japanese Brazilian debutant Edson Oda’s Nine Days starring Winston Duke Zazie Beetz. While some were unsure what to make of the metaphysical drama, the consensus was it will find a home. CAA Media Finance and 30West represent rights.
- Sundance brass announced a couple of winners on Tuesday. The Sundance Institute / Sloan Commissioning Grant went to Tim Delaney for The Plutonians; the Sundance Institute / Sloan Development Fellowship went to Kiran Deol for Tidal Disruption; and the Sundance Institute / Sloan Episodic Fellowship was presented to Courtney Smith for Higher. Michael Almereyda’s Tesla received a $20,000 cheque for winning the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize as previously announced. The Short Film Grand Jury Prize went to So What If The Goats Die, directed and written by Sofia Alaoui.