Jan 29, 2017 - Technology

Amazon, Netflix drop major cash at Sundance

  • Netflix screened eight films, breaking its own Sundance record: Hasting's mega-service also purchased a $5 million deal for documentary "Icarus," one the most expensive nonfiction film to date
  • Amazon dropped $12 million for "The Big Sick," as well as distribution rights to three other films, beating out their Oscar-nominated investment in Manchester by the Sea last year for $10 million.

Why it matters: Digital companies investing big dollars in content to distribute marks a major shift for the movie business. Per CNET, streaming companies screened more projects at the festival this year than ever before, and Sundance creatives responded accordingly. This year more than ever, a swell of films with niche creative flooded the scene in Utah, frustrating commercial studios, who rely on broad, thematic pieces to captured large, national audiences.

Who's winning? As of now, Amazon, but that could change given Netflix's big investment this year. Last week, Amazon beat Netflix to become the first streaming company to own a film nominated for an Oscar best picture. Their win followed financial gains over Netflix at the box office in 2016. Amazon released Manchester by the Sea to theaters traditionally, making $36 million at the box office. Hastings released Beasts of No Nation in theatres and on his streaming app simultaneously, bringing in a dismal $91,000 at the box office.

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