Sundance 2020: What’s the Big Deal? 

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti appear in “Palm Springs,” a satirical film by Max Barbakow and an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Chris Willard.

By all accounts, it’s been a slow Sundance Film Festival this year. According to some, even foot traffic has been down.

However, interest was very high around the acquisition sale this year of “Palm Springs,” a satirical film directed by Max Barbakow and starring Adam Samberg as lead. It turned out to be the biggest purchase in the history of the festival…although by just a very small amount: 69 cents, to be exact.

The full price of the acquisition? $17,500,000.69.

The news about the purchase of the movie—a sale brokered by UTA Independent Film Group—was announced following a joint statement from Hulu and Neon.


It wasn’t the only deal that’s been getting buzz. There were other deals as well:

  • As the festival rolled into its second week, the news that chiller thriller “The Night House” rolled toward a deal with Searchlight Pictures. Directed by David Bruckner and led by an incredible performance from British actor Rebecca Hall, the film focuses in on a widow who begins to uncover disturbing secrets about her recently deceased husband.
  • “Ironbark,” the stellar Cold War spy drama, which reveals how “dad films” still have clout, was bought by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, the latter of which will handle theatrical distribution.
  • Amazon Studios made two significant buys: A $12 million acquisition deal for the film “Uncle Frank,” (starring Paul Bettany); Amazon Studios also nabbed North American rights to Phyllida Lloyd’s “Herself.”
  • Haifaa Al-Mansour’s “The Perfect Candidate” was bought by Music Box Films before the festival rolled. (The film was screened at Sundance for its U.S. Premiere after showing strongly at the Venice Film Festival in 2019.)