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Sundance 2012: Info On Films Acquired For Distribution (Who Bought What & For How Much)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
February 2, 2012 5:04 PM
5 Comments
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The Hollywood Reporter has a roundup of all the films that were picked up for distribution at the Sundance 2012 Film Festival last month, including what companies bought them AND how much was paid for each.

Now... I should first say that, in my past experiences with filmmakers whose films were picked up at film festivals, I'd advise you not be in any rush to conclusions based on these figures; at least, I certainly wouldn't assume that the filmmakers whose names are on THR's list are now suddenly rich and their careers set for life!

No.

And just how accurate/exact are these numbers? Who knows for sure, other than those directly involved. But it sure is fun to speculate :)

The filmmakers may not even see a cent of the money; or maybe just enough to pay off debts.

I remember talking to Scott Sanders a little while after an announcement was made that his Black Dynamite flick had been acquired at Sundance by Sony Pictures for some $2 million. He was sitting in his Los Angeles apartment perplexed, because, as he said, he didn't even know about the purchase, so he was hearing it from me first, which I thought was strange yet funny! And he made a remark about returning home to stacks of bills waiting to be paid and not being 100% sure of where the money would even come from.

And I also remember chatting with Barry Jenkins and Dennis Dortch on a podcast at least a year after their feature debuts (Medicine For Melancholy and A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy respectively) had been acquired by prominent indie distribution companies, and released. One of the first questions I asked them both was, a year or two later, what life was like for them. Their responses were identical. Nothing much had changed; it was all still very much a struggle; I even remember Barry saying that he'd recently worked a construction job to earn some cash. 

So... all that to emphasize what I said earlier; don't be so taken in by what you read here that you rush to conclusions. It ain't all gravy..

All that said... below you'll find acquisition info for 4 films that debuted at Sundance this year that I saw at the festival and reviewed here as well, that were picked up by distribution companies:

Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap | The Indomina Group: $1 million-plus, worldwide rights

Beasts of the Southern Wild | Fox Searchlight: Nearly $1 million, U.S. rights

Middle of Nowhere | Participant Media and the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement: Mid-six figures, U.S. rights

2 Days in New York | Magnolia Pictures: N/A, North American rights

No figures available for the last film.

You can see the full list HERE.

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5 Comments

  • OLAYIWOLA ABISOYE | July 18, 2013 1:32 PMReply

    Finally, i want to know if there are good investor(s) who would want to partner with a Nigerian movie maker to producer films that would not only tell our story, but would have a lot of moral lessons to teach without actually boring the viewers to tears or imposing any religious or moral beliefs.

  • OLAYIWOLA ABISOYE | July 18, 2013 1:27 PMReply

    i want to know how a movie maker from Nigeria can sell his movies at any of these film festival and make a good return on his investment

  • olayiwola abisoye | July 18, 2013 1:24 PMReply

    has any movie from nigeria ever been bought at the sundance film festival and for how much

  • Gina | February 2, 2012 11:28 PMReply

    Da-Hell? So basically the moral of the story is don't quit your day job? How can something you create for 2M leave you left with nothing? What's the point? Thanks Rodney for the breakdown.

  • Rodney | February 2, 2012 8:38 PMReply

    I'm not surprised that many of these Sundancers didn't have alot to show for after they sold their films.

    I recall from a past experience at Sundance that the acquisition price received from a negative pickup deal went to (i) sales agent fees, (ii) attorneys fees, (iii) cost of the actual delivery materials from the lab, (iv) getting all the clearances you didn't get during production (which usually cost alot more than anticipated), (iv) cast and crew deferments (and other adjustments called for under your SAG agreement), (v) E&O insurance policy and (vi) accountants fees.

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