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Hulu, Amazon and Apple+ Lead Sundance Deal Making

Fern Siegel

Streamers scored big deals in the first few days of the Sundance Film Festival.

Disney-owned Hulu has a specific film strategy. It looks for deals with Neon, Annapurna, Bleecker Street, Lionsgate and IFC Films — making the festival a key place to buy content. Neon and Hulu acquired Andy Samberg’s comedy “Palm Springs” for $17,500,000.69, the most expensive in the festival’s history, reports EW.

Samberg’s (“Saturday Night Live”) rom-com is one of the few comedies at the festival. In “Palm Springs,” he co-stars with Cristin Milioti. When a wedding hook-up goes awry, they find they can’t escape the venue or each other.

Documentaries are also a big deal at Sundance this year. Audiences are interested in the genre — and streamers have helped popularize and distribute it.

Apple acquired the documentary “Boys State” from co-directors Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. A24 will distribute the film theatrically; the tech company will stream it on Apple TV+. That partnership includes joint-distribution of films in production by A24, including Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks.”

The “Boys State” doc chronicles the seven-day American Legion program in Texas. Teens form a two-party government, run campaigns and hold elections. The goal is to teach civil discourse in politics, and famous alums include Cory Booker, Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney.

Netflix brought several docs to the festival, including “Mucho Mucho Amor,” about Walter Mercado, the iconic Puerto Rican astrologer; “Crip Camp,” about disabled teens; “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” in which an actress tries to keep her 86-year-old father alive; and “Into the Deep.” “Deep” began as a documentary of amateur inventor Peter Madsen, but changed after Madsen murdered Kim Wall aboard his homemade submarine.

Amazon Studio’s first big buy at Sundance for Prime is for the worldwide rights to the drama “Uncle Frank,” written by Alan Ball (“American Beauty”), at a reported $12 million. It’s a 1970s road movie starring Sophia Lillis and Paul Bettany.

Amazon also secured North American rights to Phyllida Lloyd’s “Herself,” an Irish drama about a woman who builds her dream house after escaping an abusive marriage.

Besides its doc haul, Netflix picked up “His House,” Remi Weekes’ film about a Sudanese couple that escapes to England, only to encounter evil in a small town.

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