Jan 29, 2017

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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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."