Streaming giants continue Sundance deals, despite Berlin’s brick wall
James R | On 18, Feb 2016
Sundance may be a distant memory, but Netflix and Amazon continue to snap up films from the festival.
Netflix has bought the worldwide SVOD rights to White Girl, starring Dana Brody off Homeland. Morgan Saylor plays the titular college student who falls for a drug dealer, only to be left with a stash of cocaine following his arrest.
The film is the feature directorial debut of Elizabeth Wood, with Justin Bartha, Brian Marc, Chris Noth, India Menuez and Adrian Martinez co-starring. The film is exec produced by Christine Vachon, Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman and David Hinojosa, with Gabriel Nussbaum on board as producer.
Amazon, meanwhile, has picked up worldwide rights to Penny Lane’s documentary, NUTS!. The animated film follows the strange-but-true story of John Romulus Brinkley, a Kansas doctor who discovered in 1917 that he could cure impotence by transplanting goat testicles into men.
The documentary won the Special Jury Award for Editing at Sundance, thanks to its mix of animated reenactments, interviews and archive footage. The movie is written by Thom Stylinski and produced by James Belfer and Daniel Shepard of Cartuna, along with Caitlin Mae Burke and Lane.
The deals were made at the Berlin Film Festival, where the Sundance titles were scouting for European buyers, and follow a wave of cash-splashing from the VOD platforms. At Sundance, both rivals picked up six films, including a $10 million deal from Amazon for Manchester by the Sea and a $7 million deal from Netflix for The Fundamentals of Caring.
Berlin, though, has proven something of a brick wall for both streaming giants.
Traditional distributors have dominated the deals at the event, from EuropaCorp snapping up the domestic rights to James Ponsoldt’s tech thriller The Circle and Paramount buying the US rights to George Clooney’s Suburbicon.
That is not for lack of trying from the VOD upstarts, though. According to THR, Amazon made the biggest offer for Nichols’ Loving, but CAA ended up selling to Focus, who bought the US rights to the film for $9 million.
One reason why Amazon is thought to have been less successful with its Berlin bids is that its model involves partnering with another distributor for the theatrical release of films. At present, though, Manchester by the Sea is still yet to find an official theatrical distributor. White Girl and NUTS! are also set to hit cinemas, but with no theatrical partner confirmed.