Sundance: Amazon snaps up The Big Sick in double-digit deal
James R | On 22, Jan 2017
Amazon has snapped up The Big Sick in one of Sundance Film Festival’s biggest ever deals.
The online giant, which made a splash at Sundance last year with the acquisition of Oscar favourite Manchester by the Sea, is back in Utah for 2017 and meaning business. Amazon has already bought the rights for The Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip, but that deal has been eclipsed by its latest acquisition: Michael Showalter’s buzzy comedy The Big Sick.
The film, which premiered on Friday night at the festival, went into Sundance as one of the higher-profile films with commercial potential, thanks to the backing of producer Judd Apatow and presence of the Wet Hot American Summer creator at the helm. Written by
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), the film is based on their real life relationship, following a Pakistani-American comedian, Kumail (Nanjiani), whose relationship with his girlfriend, Emily (Zoe Kazan), has to overcome the headwind of their culture clash. The cast includes Holly Hunter, Ray Romano and Bo Burnham.
Within two days of that premiere, Amazon has pounced, stumping up a not inconsiderable $12 million for what Deadline reports will be US, UK, French and German distribution rights. Variety says that negotiations for the film went well into the late hours of Saturday, with interested distributors including Sony, Focus Features and Netflix. Other territories had already been sold for the film’s release, but Amazon outbid rivals to nab the rights, with its emphasis upon giving its acquisitions a theatrical release giving it an advantage.
The deal follows Netflix’s acquisitions of Casting JonBenet and Berlin Syndrome, as well as Amazon’s announcement of a $100k bonus for films screening at Sundance that want to give it the exclusive rights to distribute their film online. While last year’s Amazon acquisitions were only for North America, the online giant has since expanded worldwide with its Prime Video service, which could see it buy more rights to more territories in the future.
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