Written by Carlie McKeon | Last Updated June 26th, 2019Follow Carlie McKeon on Google+
The traditional big-name behemoths have come up relatively empty-handed at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
For the last thirty years, small distributors have come prepared with their usual festival productions, but new players - namely Netflix and Amazon - are ready to play ball.
Netflix and Amazon are wildly popular brands, but their impact on the famous festival scene is causing a new landscape shift. Last year, neither Netflix nor Amazon purchased a film at the Sundance Film Festival.
But 2016 is a new year. The two streaming companies came prepared to pay, picking up seven films in the first four days of the festival for a whopping $30 million. Netflix paid $7 million alone for a Paul Rudd film, The Fundamentals of Caring. That's a lot of money for a service charging $8.99 each month.
Sundance isn't the only place Netflix and Amazon are dropping serious coin. Netflix and Amazon have spent an absurd amount of cash on films, purchasing Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation for $17.5 million, Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea for $10 million, and another $5 million for Tallulah starring Ellen Page. There is no word on what the plans are for these specific films, but both companies have tried out different releasing strategies over the last few months.
Both Netflix and Amazon released their highest-profile films to date this last fall. Netflix released Cary Fukunaga's Beasts of No Nation, which they paid $12 million for, far out-biding all other distributors. Netflix released the film in 31 theaters across the United States while simultaneously releasing it on their streaming service.
Amazon enjoyed a similar launch, releasing Spike Lee's Chi-raq exclusively in 305 theaters before making it available to rent a month later.
Although both films received stunning reviews, neither film did much at the box office nor did they receive any Academy Award nominations. There is speculation surrounding the award snubs (#OscarSoWhite), but one theory surrounds the threat streaming services pose to the traditional entertainment business.
Per tradition, festival deals that got up into the eight-figure range were "audience-friendly comedies" that had high-earning potential. But neither Netflix or Amazon are limited to following tradition. These multi-billion-dollar services do not have to make box office numbers add up nor do they have to make those number public.