Anne Thompson’s Variety article on the challenging market at Sundance this year is worth a read for anyone considering the indie route.
I’ve written several times about my festival experience with The Nines, and how the classic paradigm of how indie films get bought and distributed is almost a myth. Most Sundance movies don’t sell, and many of the sales aren’t profitable for either side. We remember the exceptions, the break-out hits, but those are more elusive than we think:
Last year’s most-ballyhooed Sundance sales found no glory at the domestic box office: Focus Features’ $10 million worldwide acquisition “Hamlet 2,” Searchlights $5 million “Choke,” Overture’s $3.5 million “Henry Poole Is Here,” Paramount Vantage’s $1 million-$2 million “American Teen,” and two Sony Pictures Classics pickups, ‘The Wackness” and ‘Baghead” (which were bought for under $1 million).
Hamlet 2 was easily the most commercial, but it made $5 million. You can understand why buyers are gun-shy, and why indie financiers are hard to find.
So what should a Sundance filmmaker expect?
A great audience, smart questions and very cold weather. Like The Nines, some movies will find distribution after the festival, but more and more filmmakers will need to be looking for alternative ways to get their movies out into the world. But I suspect the festival itself will be more enjoyable than it has been for years, with more focus on the movies and less on the deals.