HomeMoviesSundance 2023 Movie Deals So Far: The Complete List
Sundance 2023 Movie Deals So Far: The Complete List
January 24, 2023
Franz Rogowski, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Ben Whishaw star in the drama.
The Sundance Film Festival is well under way, yet just a few of the over 80 films that were available coming into the festival have found homes. And yet there’s interest swirling around many of the hottest sales titles and others that have broken out.
Here’s the latest of all the deals we’re tracking out of Sundance.
The art house streamer, distributor and production house MUBI has acquired the US, UK, Ireland, and Latin America rights to Ira Sachs’ “Passages,” a drama starring Franz Rogowski, Adèle Exarchopoulos, and Ben Whishaw. The film is a personal story for Sachs and follows a filmmaker (Rogowski) who cheats on his husband (Whishaw) with a woman, only to become enflamed with jealousy once his husband pursues his own new relationship.
Following an international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section next month, MUBI will release “Passages” theatrically later this year.
“Passages” is Sachs’ sixth feature and one of many to have premiered at Sundance. This one has Saïd Ben Saïd (“Elle,” “Bacarau”) and Michel Merkt (“Toni Erdmann”) as producers, and IndieWire called the film “raw and resonant” in its review out of the festival.
WME Independent and SBS International brokered the deal with MUBI. Sachs is repped by WME and Fusion Entertainment.
Title: “Flora and Son” Section: Premieres Distributor: Apple TV+
Apple acquired the worldwide rights in a competitive situation to John Carney’s musical romance and comedy “Flora and Son” out of Sundance in a deal that an individual with knowledge says is in the high eight figures, with some reports saying it reached as high as $20 million.
“Flora and Son” is about a mother (Eve Hewson) in Ireland who bonds more deeply with her troubled son (Orén Kinlan) over their shared love of a guitar. She takes lessons over Zoom from an instructor played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s half a world away.
“Once” was a global box office success in 2007 and won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly.” Since then director John Carney has carved out a unique path as a storyteller of small character studies, often with a musical flavor. For his first feature since 2016’s “Sing Street,” Carney assembled Hewson, Gordon-Levitt, and Jack Reynor to tell another story of how music can change people’s lives in “Flora and Son.”
Apple made a splash in 2021 by acquiring the Sundance audience and jury prize winner “CODA” for $25 million, and that paid off with a Best Picture win. Last year it acquired what became the next Audience Award winner, “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” for $15 million.
WME, Fifth Season, and Film Nation co-repped the sale.
Title: “Theater Camp” Section: U.S. Dramatic Distributor: Searchlight
In one of the larger deals for a theatrical release so far, Searchlight bought “Theater Camp” on January 23, the distributor announced, and according to a source even beat out multiple bidders, including streamers. The deal was in the high seven-figures range, an individual with knowledge told IndieWire. The directorial debut of Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, the film stars Ben Platt, Jimmy Tatro, Noah Galvin, Patti Harrison, Owen Thiele, and Gordon herself. The film is a love letter to drama teachers and the unique vibe of theater education which anyone knows can veer toward the delightfully bizarre quite quickly.
Gordon and Lieberman acknowledged “Waiting for Guffman” and the parody-covers collection “Forbidden Broadway” as influences on their film, which takes the form of a mockumentary.
Searchlight, which will release the film theatrically and will announce release plans at a later date, is clearly hoping for another mainstream crossover comedy success, in the mold of “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” which the studio steered to massive hits when it was still Fox Searchlight.
WME Independent brokered the deal.
Title: “Fair Play” Section: U.S. Dramatic Distributor: Netflix
In the first major, big money deal of the festival, Netflix is nearing the global rights to “Fair Play,” an individual with knowledge told IndieWire, and which IndieWire has learned is in the range of $20 million. The erotic, psychological thriller from director Chloe Domont played in the U.S. Dramatic competition. It stars Alden Ehrenreich and “Bridgerton” actress Phoebe Dynevor, as well as Eddie Masran and Rich Sommer. The film is about a couple that keeps their relationship secret while working for a ruthless and cutthroat hedge fund.
As many as seven distributors reportedly bid on the rights to “Fair Play,” with Searchlight and Neon being among them. MRC is the studio behind the film and also handled the sales rights.
“Fair Play” boasts Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman from T-Street as executive producers, and the film is the first in a deal between T-Street and MRC that backs films with emerging talent. Domont has cut her teeth directing episodes of “Billions,” “Suits,” and “Ballers.”
Title: “Kokomo City” Section: NEXT Distributor: Magnolia
Magnolia has been active, as following the theatrical pickup of “Little Richard: I Am Everything” earlier in the fest, the indie distributor staged an all-night negotiation to acquire worldwide rights to “Kokomo City,” the directorial debut of Grammy-nominated producer and singer D. Smith.
Smith, a trans performer also known for “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta,” directed, wrote and edited this documentary shot in all black and white and playing in the NEXT section about four Black transgender sex workers in Atlanta and New York City who fight to break down the walls of their profession.
Lena Waithe is among the executive producers on the film, and Magnolia will release it later this year following a screening at Berlin Panorama. CAA Media Finance brokered the deal with Magnolia.
“Little Richard: I Am Everything”
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Title: “Little Richard: I Am Everything” Section: U.S. Documentary Distributor: Magnolia/CNN Films
Though it originally sat with CNN Films, Magnolia has acquired the worldwide theatrical rights to distribute “Little Richard: I Am Everything” and will release the film in domestic theaters this April. And Magnolia will also rep international sales rights on the title at EFM later this year. The film will still air on CNN later this year following its theatrical run.
Lisa Cortés (“Precious,” “All In: The Fight for Democracy”) directs this documentary about the rock icon Little Richard but approaches his legacy in the context of Blackness and queerness, as well as his own personal identity as it relates to his faith and Christianity. It also boasts Dee Rees as an executive producer and was produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films.
“I Am Everything” is a Day One movie at Sundance, but it’s also one of six of the final long-form movies to come out of CNN Films that were commissioned from outside producers and filmmakers.
“Succession” actress Sarah Snook stars in this Midnight title from director Daina Reed, known for “The Shining Girls” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The film is a thriller and horror movie about a fertility doctor who believes firmly in life and death, but after noticing the strange behavior of her young daughter, must challenge her own values and confront a ghost from her past. The film was shot on location in Melbourne, Australia and other parts of the country. Hannah Kent (“The Good People,” “Devotion”) wrote the screenplay.
Netflix picked up worldwide rights (excluding Benelux, Portugal, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Latin America, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Nordics and Taiwan) to “Run Rabbit Run” on Thursday as the festival was kicking off and will release it later in 2023. XYZ Films co-financed the title, handled international sales, and brokered the deal with Netflix.
Title: “In My Mother’s Skin” Section: Midnight Distributor: Amazon Prime Video
Amazon hours before Sundance kicked off acquired “In My Mother’s Skin,” the only Filipino film playing in the festival and the only international feature playing in the Midnight section. “In My Mother’s Skin” is the second feature from director Kenneth Dagatan, who previously directed 2018’s “Ma.” “In My Mother’s Skin” is set in 1945 in the Philippines and explores how a young girl’s duty to protect her dying mother is complicated by her misplaced trust in a beguiling, flesh-eating fairy. The film stars Beauty Gonzalez, Felicity Kyle Napuli, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, James Mavie Estrella, and Angeli Bayani.
“This is truly a moment for Filipino filmmakers to be seen by the international audience, and I hope this opens doors for more Filipino content to be watched by the rest of the world,” Dagatan said in part in an official statement.
Amazon Prime Video acquired global rights to the title and plans to release “In My Mother’s Skin” by the end of 2023.
“Other People’s Children”
Courtesy of Les Films Velvet/George Lechaptois
Films Acquired Ahead of the Festival
Title: “Other People’s Children” Section: Spotlight Distributor: Music Box Films
Music Box Films on Tuesday, January 10 acquired the U.S. rights to Rebecca Zlotowski’s family drama “Other People’s Children,” which first premiered at Venice in competition and will make its U.S. premiere at Sundance on January 20. The film stars Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem, and Chiara Mastroianni, and IndieWire out of Venice called it “delightfully French” and praised Efira’s performance. She plays a high school teacher who falls in love with a man and soon grows a close bond to his 4-year-old daughter, making her grapple with her own ambitions with motherhood.
Music Box Films is planning a release for “Other People’s Children” in theaters and on home entertainment platforms this spring.
Title: “Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)” Section: Spotlight Distributor: Utopia
Anton Corbijn (“Control,” “The American”) gets back to his rock music history roots by telling the stories of some of the most famous album cover artwork ever, all of it spawning from the art design studio Hipgnosis. Corbijn interviews talent like Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, and Jimmy Page to tell the stories of albums such as Wings’ “Band on the Run,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” in a film that should be catnip for classic rock heads.
“Squaring the Circle” first made its premiere at Telluride 2022 and will play in the Spotlight section of the festival. Utopia, which acquired the movie on Jan. 6, is planning a summer release.
Malala Yousafzai and Ramin Bahrani both executive produce this film that was the first Pakistani movie to ever premiere at Cannes. “Joyland” is directed and written by Saim Sadiq and is the story of a young man as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque show, only to fall in love with a trans woman who leads the show.
Oscilloscope acquired “Joyland” on Jan. 6 and will release it theatrically later this year.
“My Animal” is a horror movie and romance starring Bobbi Salvör Menuez (“Under the Silver Lake”) and Amandla Stenberg (“The Hate U Give”) as two teens in a small town who fall for each other, only for one girl’s growing desires to slowly clash with her darker animal instincts within (translation: she’s a werewolf). Director Jacqueline Castel has collaborated with everyone from John Carpenter, Jim Jarmusch, and David Lynch and should be able to go beyond the traditional genre beats. Jae Matthews (“The Runner”) wrote the script.
Paramount Worldwide Acquisition Group picked up the worldwide rights (excluding Canada) to “My Animal” ahead of the festival, though whether the film will be theatrical, released through Paramount+, or another channel has yet to be determined.
Title: “The Deepest Breath” Section: Premieres Distributor: Netflix
From “Free Solo” to free diving. Irish filmmaker Laura McGann directs this documentary about a champion freediver training to break a world record with the help of an expert safety diver. The film explores not just the silent depths of the ocean but the depths of the emotional bond formed between the two divers.
Netflix collaborated on “The Deepest Breath” with A24 alongside Motive Films, Ventureland, and RAW, the latter of which was behind Netflix’s documentary hit “The Tinder Swindler.”
This South Korean romance is the debut feature from playwright Celine Song (“Endlings”) and spreads out over three generations of bonding and missed connections. The film stars Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magar0, and A24 will release the film following its Sundance premiere.
Another A24 film and another first time director, “Earth Mama” follows a pregnant single mother, with two children in foster care, who embraces her Bay Area community as she fights to reclaim her family. Savannah Leaf wrote and directed the film, her first feature after having won awards for her documentary short “The Heart Still Hums” and even earning a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video for directing Gary Clark Jr.’s “This Land.”
Title: “Stephen Curry: Underrated” Section: Premieres Distributor: Apple TV+
“Underrated” is a documentary about Golden State Warriors icon Stephen Curry that explores through a combination of cinéma vérité, archival footage, and interviews how Curry went from being a low rated, undersized college kid at a Division I school to rising to be a 4-time NBA champ. Ryan Coogler produces and Peter Nicks (“The Waiting Room,” “Homeroom”) directs this film that will debut on Apple TV+ later this year through its partnership with A24. “Underrated” was a late addition to the Sundance lineup in the Premieres section.
Title: “Infinity Pool” Section: Midnight Distributor: Neon and Topic
Brandon Cronenberg, son to David Cronenberg, makes his return to Sundance with his follow-up to “Possessor.” Early buzz suggests that he delivers. This Midnight title stars Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth and follows a couple on an all-inclusive resort vacation that reveals a perverse subculture of surreal horrors and hedonistic tourism after a fatal accident.
Neon and Topic came into the festival with the rights for “Infinity Pool” and promptly released a twisted and surreal trailer, and the film will now open January 27.
Title: “Still: A Michael J. Fox Story” Section: Premieres Distributor: Apple TV+
Davis Guggenheim’s first documentary feature in seven years follows “Back to the Future” icon Michael J. Fox in a film that charts this Canadian kid’s meteoric rise to stardom and how his life was altered by his Parkinson’s diagnosis at age 29. Guggenheim’s telling of Fox’s story is described via the festival’s description as a playful and humorous account of an “eternal optimist” dealing with the unthinkable.
Apple TV+ is releasing “Still” and acquired the rights to it back in April.
Title: “Landscape with Invisible Hand” Section: Premieres Distributor: MGM
Director Cory Finley (“Thoroughbreds,” “Bad Education”) makes his return to Sundance with an adaptation of M.T. Anderson’s National Book Award winner. It’s a darkly comedic sci-fi and coming-of-age story about two teenagers who have to livestream their courtship to curious alien invaders as a means of making money and scraping by an existence after the advanced alien technology has made all but the wealthiest humans obsolete.
MGM’s United Artists Releasing is distributing the film backed by Annapurna and Brad Pitt’s Plan B, and it also stars Tiffany Haddish, Michael Gandolfini, William Jackson Harper, and Clifton Collins Jr.
“You Hurt My Feelings”
courtesy of Sundance Institute/A24
Title: “You Hurt My Feelings” Section: Premieres Distributor: A24
Julia Louis-Dreyfus reunites with her “Enough Said” director Nicole Holofcener for this dramedy about a successful New York novelist who is offended and devastated to learn that her husband of decades doesn’t like her latest novel. The film has a rare comedic turn for Tobias Menzies and also stars Michaela Watkins and Arian Moyaed. A24 is distributing the film.
Title: “Cassandro” Section: Premieres Distributor: Amazon Prime Video
Gael García Bernal stars as a gay luchador tired of losing and tired of hiding behind a mask during his wrestling matches who manages to break barriers within the lucha libre circuit by developing an eccentric “exótico” character that takes crowds by storm. Roger Ross Williams, who is best known for his documentary “Life, Animated” that played at Sundance in 2016, is making his narrative feature debut on “Cassandro.” Amazon Prime Video is releasing the film.
Title: “Judy Blume Forever” Section: Premieres Distributor: Amazon Prime Video
Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok (“Very Semi-Serious”) co-direct this documentary about one of literature’s most influential children’s authors, Judy Blume. In addition to profiling the author, it also shows fans who share heartfelt letters that they wrote to the author over the years.
Amazon Prime Video is releasing the film that is produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Documentaries.
Title: “L’immensita” Section: Spotlight Distributor: Music Box Films
Penélope Cruz stars in this ’70s period drama set in Rome as a mother who forms a deeper bond with her teenage child who is just beginning to discover their transgender identity. The film is the first movie from Italian director Emanuele Crialese in 11 years, and early reviews have praised Cruz’s performance and its Italian pop music soundtrack.
Music Box Films is releasing “L’immensita” in the U.S., while Warner Bros. Italy has the Italian distribution rights. It first made its premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Title: “A Thousand and One” Section: U.S. Dramatic Distributor: Focus Features
Those in Sundance circles have long anticipated “A Thousand and One,” which is the feature debut of a Sundance Lab alumnus A.V. Rockwell. The film is about a mother bouncing around from shelter to shelter in ‘90s New York who kidnaps her own 6-year-old son from a foster home and attempts to build a new life together. The film spans years and is hyped to feature a star-making turn from the musician and singer Teyana Taylor.
Focus Features has already set a theatrical release date for March 31, 2023 for the film.
Though it’s in the splashier Premieres section, “Rye Lane” is an under-the-radar feature directorial debut of UK filmmaker Raine Allen-Miller and is a rom-com about two 20-somethings who pair up and cavort around London after they each have to confront some awkward recent break-ups. Searchlight Pictures is releasing.
Title: “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” Section: U.S. Dramatic Distributor: A24
“All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” is the feature directorial debut of poet Raven Jackson, who manages to bend the cinematic medium in surprisingly poetic and lyrical ways. The film spans decades in charting the growth, loves, and heartbreaks of a Black woman in Mississippi from her childhood to adult years.
The film is one of two movies A24 is bringing to Sundance, but this one has the backing of Barry Jenkins and his Pastel banner.
Title: “The Amazing Maurice” Section: Kids Distributor: Sky Cinema
The animated “The Amazing Maurice” is based on a book by the same name and follows a street-smart cat who along with a gang of rats develops a moneymaking scheme.
Toby Genkel directs, and Emilia Jones, Hugh Laurie, Himesh Patel, and Gemma Arterton make up the voice cast. The Sky Original will hit theaters February 3.
Title: “The Eight Mountains” Section: Spotlight Distributor: Sideshow Releasing and Janus Films
Felix van Groeningen (“Beautiful Boy”) and Charlotte Vandermeersch, both Sundance alums, direct this drama that’s set in Italy and is based on a novel about a boy from the city visiting a tiny mountain village over the summer.
Sideshow Releasing and Janus Films acquired “The Eight Mountains” after it won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Title: “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” Section: Premieres Distributor: ABC News on Hulu
Named for her breakout role when she was just 12, “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” has been described as a revealing and critical documentary about a teen model and icon. Lana Wilson, who most recently got some intimate details out of Taylor Swift for her doc “Miss Americana,” directs the film.
The two-part documentary will air on Hulu via ABC News.
Title: “20 Days in Mariupol” Section: World Cinema Documentary Distributor: Frontline/PBS
A timely news documentary about the Russian invasion in Ukraine, Ukrainian filmmaker and AP News video journalist Mstyslav Chernov was up close and personal during the early days of the attacks on the city of Mariupol as one of the last international journalists to flee the country. Some of Chernov’s footage should already be familiar around the world and in some cases has directly refuted Russian misinformation.
“20 Days in Mariupol” is part of a larger editorial collaboration between Frontline and AP, and the film will be released by PBS Distribution following its Sundance premiere.
A new take on the classic Frankenstein story, “birth/rebirth” is about a single mother and a mortician who form a bond after they manage to re-animate a 6-year-old girl from the dead. The psychological horror film is directed by Laura Moss, and it stars Marin Ireland, A.J. Lister, and the young Judy Reyes in a breakout turn.
“birth/rebirth” is a Shudder original film that only kicked off production in September of this year, and the horror streamer will release it in North America in 2023.
Title: “Murder in Big Horn” Section: Premieres Distributor: Showtime
Sundance will present all three episodes of this Showtime docuseries in which each episode explores the missing person case of an Indigenous woman or girl who has disappeared from a reservation in the Big Horn region of Montana. Each episode is told from the perspective of the Native families and journalists involved in the case and who are still grieving. Razelle Benally and Matthew Galkin direct the series.
Title: “Polite Society” Section: Midnight Distributor: Focus Features
A different kind of Midnight movie, “Polite Society” is a mashup of comedy, horror, and martial arts movie and is also the feature directorial debut of “We Are Lady Parts” creator Nida Manzoor. The film follows an Indian girl who stages an elaborate heist in order to save her older sister from her upcoming marriage.
Focus Features will release “Polite Society” in theaters on April 28, 2023.
Title: “Victim/Suspect” Section: U.S. Documentary Distributor: Netflix
Nancy Schwartzman directs this documentary about a journalist investigating numerous cases of women reporting sexual assault to the police who are then accused of fabricating their stories and are charged with crimes of their own.
Netflix partnered on the feature with the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Title: “The Stroll” Section: U.S. Documentary Distributor: HBO
“The Stroll” takes audiences back to New York in the 1990s and tells the history of the city’s Meatpacking District, specifically from the perspective of transgender sex workers. Its co-director Kristen Lovell walked the streets in that time herself and is a long-time trans activist able to bring an intimate, personal touch to the film.
HBO Documentaries will air the film both on HBO and on HBO Max following its Sundance premiere.