Film festivals are usually filled with quite a few storylines. First and foremost, there are the reviews, which give folks an idea of which of the dozens of pictures premiering are worth their time. (For 2020, we already have a pretty extensive list for you to peruse.) However, there is also the story of which of these films will land a major distribution deal. And in recent years, it appears the cost for distributors to land high-profile films at the big festivals keeps going up and up. Sundance 2020 is yet another example of this.
So far, there have been quite a few deals made for some of the bigger, more well-received titles at Sundance. And as you might expect, some of the typical names (Searchlight, Hulu, Amazon, etc…) are the ones writing the checks.
(Note: updated 1/29 to include “Boys State” and “The Fight”)
Magnolia has entered the Sundance buying spree with a “mid-seven figures” deal for the documentary, “The Fight.” The film follows the ACLU’s recent battles to thwart the efforts of Donald Trump and his immigration agenda. Read our review here. (via Deadline)
Newlyweds, Apple and A24 have reportedly landed the rights to one of the most talked-about docs at the festival, “Boys State.” The deal is said to be worth $10 million, one of the biggest ever for a documentary at Sundance. No word on a release strategy for the film. Read our review here. (via Variety)
Amazon has apparently made a deal for the drama written and directed by Alan Ball, which stars Paul Bettany. The deal is said to be worth a whopping $12 million. Bettany is joined by a cast that includes Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale, and Stephen Root in a ‘70s-set story that follows the story of a young girl that is forced to move into the home of the title character, who has been hiding his sexuality and partner from his family for years. Amazon now owns the worldwide rights to the film. (via Variety)
“The Night House”
Searchlight Pictures (formerly Fox Searchlight) has reportedly paid $12 million to land the distribution rights to the new thriller from filmmaker David Bruckner. Starring Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Evan Jonigkeit, and Vondie Curtis-Hall, “The Night House” follows the story of a widow that is seemingly haunted by a supernatural presence that forces her to dig deeper into the life of her recently-deceased husband. Read our review here. (via Deadline)
The “Groundhog Day”-esque comedy starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti has reportedly landed a deal with NEON and Hulu that is said to be worth $15 million. The film follows a hapless man that is forced to relive a day in his life where he attends a friend’s wedding. Along the way, he meets a woman that catches his eye. Read our review here. (via Deadline)
Lionsgate is among those making big deals at Sundance, with the purchase of the rights to the Dominic Cooke-directed film, “Ironbark.” No exact terms have been released, but the report claims that the deal is worth mid-seven-figures. “Ironbark” follows the story of a businessman (Benedict Cumberbatch) that has to work with a Soviet man to help defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis. Read our review here. (via Deadline)
NEON has reportedly secured the US and Canadian rights to distribute Francis Lee’s upcoming drama, “Ammonite.” The distributor is said to have paid $3 million for the rights. “Ammonite” stars Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet, and the film follows the story of a fossil hunter in 1800s England that is forced to work with a younger woman. Along the way, the true nature of their relationship begins to be revealed. (via Deadline — Note: “Ammonite” deal was done during Sundance, but the film is expected to premiere at a later festival.)