What Movies Were Bought at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival?
Streaming services Netflix and Amazon came out swinging at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, making headlines for snapping up the rights to everything from feel-good comedies to politically charged documentaries. Newbie distributors also made waves by jumping into bidding wars over several films.
Find out what films scored big at Sundance below.
A Ghost Story
Critics raved about this melancholy supernatural drama from writer/director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints). A24 will release the film, which stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Paramount acquired Al Gore’s follow-up to his acclaimed climate control documentary prior to the festival. Look for the film, directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, in theaters this July.
Writer/director Eliza Hittman scored the Directing Award for her film about a young man struggling with his identity on the gritty edge of Brooklyn. Neon purchased the film, one of three acquisitions for the new distribution company at the festival.
Netflix scooped up the streaming rights to this thriller about a young tourist (Teresa Palmer) who encounters a dangerous man while on a trip to Germany. Vertical will handle the theatrical release.
The Big Sick
Amazon scored this acclaimed rom-com about a couple who deals with illness and cultural differences for $12 million. Kumail Nanjiani (who cowrote the script with his wife Emily V. Gordon) stars alongside Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. Judd Apatow produced, while Michael Showalter (Hello, My Name Is Doris) directs.
Sony Pictures Classic plunked down $5 million for this quirky comedy from SNL player Kyle Mooney and director Dave McCary. Mooney (who also cowrote the script) stars as the sole fan of the titular children’s TV show. When the show is canceled, he sets out on a journey to finish the series himself. Mark Hamill and Claire Danes also star.
Call Me By Your Name
Critics raved about this coming-of-age tale set in Italy during the early ’80s. Newcomer Timothée Chalamet stars as a young man who falls for a visiting American scholar (Armie Hammer). Sony Pictures Classic purchased worldwide rights ahead of the festival.
Netflix will release this examination of the famed murder of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey in the spring. The film draws from testimonials from people in Ramsey’s Colorado hometown.
Netflix purchased this documentary about endangered coral reefs, which won the Documentary Audience Award at the festival.
City of Ghosts
Amazon bought this acclaimed documentary, about a group of citizen journalists in Syria who stand up to ISIS, for nearly $2 million. Matthew Heineman’s film will be released theatrically by Amazon and air on A&E.
Inspired by an episode of NPR’s This American Life, Crown Heights tells the gripping story of a man wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years for a murder he didn’t commit. The film, which stars Atlanta‘s Lakeith Stanfield, won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance and was purchased by Amazon.
Fun Mom Dinner
Molly Shannon, Toni Collette and comedian Bridget Everett are among the cast of this outrageous comedy about a bunch of moms gone wild. Netflix invites you to dinner later this year.
Sam Elliott earned raves for his performance as an aging cowboy actor in director Brett Haley’s drama. The Orchard plans to release the film in the fall.
Netflix added to their roster of acclaimed documentaries with this critical favorite about doping scandals in Russian sports. The streaming service paid $5 million for director Bryan Fogel’s film.
The Incredible Jessica James
Jessica Williams (The Daily Show) earned raves for her performance in writer/director Jim Strouse’s romantic comedy. Netflix bought the film, which also stars Chris O’Dowd and Noël Wells.
Ingrid Goes West
Neon also acquired this buzzy comedy starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen for $3 million. Plaza plays a disturbed woman obsessed with a social media star. Director Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the festival for their screenplay.
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower
Netflix plans to release this acclaimed documentary about a teenager from Hong Kong who takes on the Chinese government in 190 countries.
Jenny Slate re-teamed with her Obvious Child director Gillian Robespierre for this ’90s-set dramedy about a pair of sisters who discover that their father is having an affair. Edie Falco, John Turturro and Jay Duplass also star. Amazon acquired the film for $3 million.
The Little Hours
Digital-first distributor Gunpowder and Sky snapped up this quirky comedy about a group of medieval nuns whose lives are thrown into chaos by a strapping young man. Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci and Dave Franco star.
The biggest sale of the 2017 festival came on the final day, with Netflix shelling out $12.5 for this period drama set in the Mississippi Delta. Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke and Mary J. Blige are among the cast.
Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press
Netflix will release this documentary about the legal battle between professional wrestler Hulk Hogan and the website Gawker.
Sony Pictures Classic nabbed director Maggie Betts’ debut film about a young woman (Margaret Qualley) studying to be a nun during the 1960s. Melissa Leo and Julianne Nicholson also star.
Fox Searchlight paid a whopping $10.5 million for this rousing comedy about a young female rapper spitting rhymes in suburban New Jersey.
Kino Lorber bought Singaporean writer-director Kirsten Tan’s film about a man and his pet elephant.
Following a tense bidding war, Neon scored this ’80s-set drama set in the world of hip-hop battles. Chanté Adams earned raves for her breakout performance as a 14-year-old aspiring emcee.
Fox Searchlight paid upwards of $4 million for this documentary that follows a step dance team at an all-girls school in Baltimore’s inner city.
Focus Features won the Sundance horse race for this edgy teen comedy, paying $5 million for director Cory Finley’s film. Anya Taylor-Joy (Split), Olivia Cooke and the late Anton Yelchin are among the cast.
To the Bone
Marti Noxon (UnReal) writes and directs this gritty tale of a young woman (Lily Collins) who battles eating disorders in a group recovery home. Keanu Reeves stars as the unconventional doctor who tries to help the troubled young woman. Netflix purchased the edgy drama for $8 million.