This year’s Sundance Film Festival, which wraps up this weekend, was back with in-person screenings in Park City, Utah for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual event that showcases independently-produced films works as something of a marketplace for film studios who hope to secure the distribution rights to their next big sleeper hit.
Films that have originated with the festival include CODA, Saw, Whiplash, Little Miss Sunshine, Reservoir Dogs, The Blair Witch Project, Napoleon Dynamite, and Clerks.
Large media companies like Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Paramount have made deals to distribute films from this year’s festival. You can expect to see these movies in theaters and on streaming services in the months to come.
Here are some of the highlights so far:
- Netflix acquired the psychological thriller Fair Play for $20 million. The movie follows a young couple whose relationship begins to unravel following a promotion at a demanding hedge fund company. It stars Alden Enrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story) and Phoebe Dynevor (Bridgerton) and is directed by Chloe Domont in her directorial debut.
- Theater Camp was picked up by Searchlight Pictures (owned by Disney). This mockumentary film follows the staff at a performing arts camp who must band together to keep their operation afloat when their leader goes into a coma. Will Ferrell is among the producers and it’s directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman. It’s ensemble cast includes Ben Platt and Amy Sedaris, among others.
- Apple secured worldwide rights to the musical dramedy Flora and Son. The film stars Joesph Gordon-Levitt and Eve Hewson (Bad Sisters) and is directed by John Carney (Modern Love, Once). The movie is about the single mom (Hewson) of a troubled teen (Orén Kinlan) who recruits the help of an online guitar teacher (Gordon-Levitt) to help her son find a hobby. This deal, also worth approx. $20 million, is Apple's largest since CODA.
- Netflix picked up global worldwide rights (in most regions) for Run Rabbit Run, which is an Australian psychological horror film from directer Daina Reed (The Handmaid’s Tale). It stars Succession’s Sarah Snook as a single mother who must confront her dark past when her daughter becomes inquisitive about buried family secrets.
- The rights to the lesbian werewolf romance My Animal have gone to Paramount. The horror movie is directed by Jacqueline Castel and stars Bobbi Salvör Menuez (Under the Silver Lake) and Amanda Stenberg (The Hate U Give) as two small-town teens who fall in love when one girl discovers some darker animal instincts growing within her. It’s unknown if Paramount will send this to theaters or Paramount+.
- As for documentaries, Amazon has acquired Judy Blume Forever, about the influential children’s author. The Deepest Breath, a documentary that’s a bit like Free Solo for diving, will be released by Netflix. As for Apple TV+, they’ve acquired Stephen Curry: Underrated, about the four time NBA champion, as well as Still: A Michael J. Fox Story about the iconic Back to the Future actor.