The 10-day-long Sundance Film Festival — the first major fest on every cinephile’s calendar — begins this afternoon in the Utah mountains. Last year’s slate produced current Oscar hopefuls “Call Me by Your Name,” “Get Out,” “Mudbound,” and “The Big Sick,” the latter being two of the biggest buys witnessed at the festival, garnering a respective $12.5 million from Netflix and $12 million from Amazon Studios.
Distributors are descending on Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance in search of their successors, hoping not to repeat last year’s blunder by Fox Searchlight, which paid $9.5 million for “Patti Cake$,” a film that reaped only $800,000 domestically.
Here’s our constantly-updated compendium of every 2018 Sundance acquisition.
Title: “Seeing Allred”
Section: U.S. Documentary Competition. “I feel fortunate that ‘Seeing Allred’ captures my passion and battle for justice for many victims of injustice,” said the film’s subject, women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred in an official statement. “The courage that my clients demonstrate, in speaking truth to power, inspires me every day as we fight together.” Producers include “Friends” and “Grace and Frankie” co-creator Marta Kauffman, plus Robbie Rowe Tollin (The Zookeeper’s Wife), and Hannah KS Canter (also of “Grace & Frankie”). Watch the trailer below.
Buyer: 30West/Roadside Attractions
Section: Spotlight. “It is an extraordinary and deservedly acclaimed directorial debut from Michael Pearce, who delivers a taut, tense, and stirring thriller with a wonderfully complex heroine at the film’s core,” said Roadside Attractions founders Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff in an official statement. “Jessie Buckley gives a magnificent and memorable performance.” “Beast” premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. A North American theatrical release is planned for this spring.
Title: “The Price of Everything”
Buyer: HBO Documentary Films
Section: U.S. Documentary Competition. “I couldn’t think of a better home for the film than HBO,” said Nathanial Kahn, director of the investigation into the art world and its soaring auction sales in an official statement. “I had a great experience with them on both ‘My Architect’ and my short, ‘Two Hands,’ and am particularly happy they will be taking on the theatrical as well as the TV release for ‘The Price of Everything.’”
Buyer: HBO Documentary Films
Section: Documentary Premieres. “Believer” follows Grammy-winning Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds, a Mormon frustrated by the church’s treatment of LGBTQ parishioners. Deadline first reported the sale. “Dunkirk” and “Blade Runner 2049” composer Hans Zimmer — an Oscar recepient for “The Lion King” — penned the score.
Buyer: YouTube Red
Section: Special Event. Executive produced by “8 Mile” Oscar-winner Eminem, “Bodied” premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, where IndieWire’s Eric Kohn gave it a B+ review. The Oakland hip-hop scene-set feature won TIFF’s Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award, followed by audience accolades at AFI Fest and Fantastic Fest. Watch the trailer below.
Title: “The King”
Section: Special Events. Oscilloscope president Dan Berger described the Elvis Presley documentary as “equal parts music film and road movie, biopic and investigative journalism.” Director Eugene Jareki said in an official statement, “This is a time for real soul-searching in America. We’ve got to change the national conversation from the noise of the Trump news cycle to something deeper about who we are. For this, the film needs an innovative, athletic, and breakout release. We can’t imagine a better partner than Oscilloscope to make that happen.” Steven Soderbergh executive produced the film.
Title: “Hearts Beat Loud”
Buyer: Sony Pictures Worldwide Aquistitions (international rights only, North America went to Gunpowder & Sky)
Section: Premieres. “We are thrilled to be partnering once again with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions to bring Brett Haley’s inspiring film to the world and tremendously excited about the confidence Steve, Joe and the rest of the Sony team have shown in the film’s international prospects.” said the film’s producers. The deal was announced one week prior to the drama’s official Sundance debut, following a special preview screening for festival volunteers. “Hearts Beat Loud” was executive produced by star Nick Offerman — he plays a record shop owner in Brooklyn who starts a band with his college-bound daughter (Kiersey Clemons). Haley’s previously premiered “I’ll See You in My Dreams” (2015, Bleecker Street) and “The Hero” (2017, The Orchard) at Sundance. Five days after the Sony acquisition was announced on January 19, Gunpowder & Sky secured North American distribution rights, promising a U.S. theatrical release. “[Gunpowder & Sky’s] vision and passion for the project was apparent, and their team’s expertise with music-driven films make them the ideal distributor to bring our movie to audiences across the country,” said Haley. Gunpowder & Sky CEO Van Toffler raved that, “The film’s uplifting spirit, accompanied by killer performances encapsulates life’s twisted emotional journey.”
Buyer: Bleecker Street & 30WEST (domestic; Lionsgate has U.K.; Hanway Films has international)
Price: Reportedly in the mid-seven figures.
Bidding War: Deadline reports that Sony Pictures Classics, Amazon and Fox Searchlight each tried to land the film, and its final price exceeded the originally sought $4 million. The first major acquisition of the festival.
Section: Premieres. Set for a 2018 theatrical release, “Colette” casts Keira Knightly as the enigmatic Belle Epoque novelist whose first four books were published under her husband (Dominic West)’s name. It is the latest offering from director Wash Westmoreland, who wrote the script with his late partner and “Quinceañera” and “Still Alice” collaborator Richard Glatzer. The former won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in 2006.
Title: “Leave No Trace”
Buyer: Sony Worldwide Acquisitions (international rights only, U.S. rights went to Bleecker Street)
Section: Premieres. “This movie has been such an extraordinary part of my life for so long,” said director Debra Granik. “I’m so grateful to Sony for making it possible for this film to circulate and create a dialogue with storytellers and film lovers around the world.” Granik shared a 2011 screenwriting Oscar nomination with “Leave No Trace” co-writer Anne Rosellini for their previous collaboration, “Winter’s Bone.” This film tells the story of a father (Ben Foster) and teenage daughter (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) who are discovered living off the grid near Portland, Oregon, then turned over to social services. The source material was Peter Rock’s novel “My Abandonment.” Watch a clip below.