After finding some success at the Golden Globes, but striking out at the Oscars, the two nontraditional film distributors/streaming services/tech companies/waves of the future are on something of a spending spree at the eleven-day festival. According to the New York Times, at Sundance’s halfway point, “Amazon had bought four films. Netflix had snapped up three and was chasing several more. Most traditional distributors had yet to buy anything.”
Most notably, Amazon bought writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, perhaps the most buzzed about movie at the festival, for an astonishing $10 million. That film, which stars Casey Affleck, is expected to be a contender in a number of the major categories at next year’s Academy Awards.
Despite running competing subscription video services, Netflix and Amazon seem to be taking a different approach to feature films. Netflix is staying firmly nontraditional: it is less interested in theatrical runs and wants its films to be available in theaters and online at the same time. Amazon, meanwhile, is “approaching the independent film business much like a traditional distributor,” a model it followed semi-successfully with its first feature, Spike Lee’s Chiraq.