After a Slow Start, Sundance Finishes With Plenty of Sales

The festival, seen as a barometer for the overall health of the film industry, featured several movies and documentaries snatched up by studios and streaming services.

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The exterior of the Egyptian theater, which has a sign reading "Sundance Film Festival" and snow falling on the street outside it.
Streaming services and movie studios are still making the kinds of deals at Sundance that they did in previous years.Credit…George Frey/EPA, via Shutterstock
The exterior of the Egyptian theater, which has a sign reading "Sundance Film Festival" and snow falling on the street outside it.

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Talk of the demise of the Sundance Film Festival as an incubator for audience-friendly independent films appears to have been greatly exaggerated.

When titles from this year’s 40th anniversary festival weren’t flying off the shelves by the third day of screenings, some observers saw it as yet another sign that Hollywood was in dire straits. The festival was no longer featuring independent films that could go on to be commercially viable, the thinking went.

Yet when the festival concluded over the weekend, it appeared that studios found a number of films that they were willing to bet would connect with moviegoers.

As has been the case in recent years, streaming services made the flashiest deals. Netflix paid a reported $17 million for the horror film “It’s What’s Inside” and Amazon/MGM bought “My Old Ass,” starring Aubrey Plaza, for $15 million. “Skywalkers: A Love Story,” a documentary about a Russian couple who save their marriage by scaling skyscrapers, was acquired by Netflix, while Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns the Max streaming service, is negotiating a $15 million sale for “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve story,” a documentary about the “fall and rise” of the actor best known for his big-screen portrayal of Superman.

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