January 30, 2017
Sundance 2017

Sundance's Biggest Deal: Netflix Vies for an Oscar Winner with 'Mudbound'

Netflix has picked up Dee Rees' 'Mudbound' for $12.5 million out of Sundance, making it the largest acquisition at the festival this year.

Even before today, Netflix had already emerged as the big man on campus at Sundance 2017, having acquired nine films out of the festival—more than any other company. Today, Netflix took things one step further by closing the biggest deal yet this year. The company bought Pariah director Dee Rees' Mudbound, one of the hottest acquisition titles, for $12.5 million. This surpassed Amazon's $12 million acquisition of The Big Sick, now the second-largest deal of the festival this year.

Mudbound premiered to a rousing standing ovation at Sundance. Set in 1940's rural Mississippi, the film tells the story of two families pitted against a rigid social hierarchy.

"Newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis," Sundance's synopsis reads, "the McAllans are underprepared and overly hopeful for Henry's grandiose farming dreams while Laura strives to keep the faith in her husband's losing venture. For Hap and Florence Jackson, whose families have worked the land for generations, every day is a losing venture as they struggle bravely to build some small dream of their own. The war upends both families, as their returning loved ones, Jamie and Ronsel, forge a fast, uneasy friendship that challenges them all."

The film is based on Hillary Jordan's 2009 novel of the same name and stars Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, Rob Morgan, and Mary J. Blige.

Though Netflix's buy marks the biggest acquisition at Sundance this year, its terms are significantly lower than last year's biggest deal, which saw Fox Searchlight buy The Birth of a Nation for $17.5 million. 

Netflix will release Mudbound with a day and date model—in theaters and on the streaming service simultaneously—later this year, presumably in time for awards season.


For more, see our complete coverage of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

No Film School's video and editorial coverage of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by RODE Microphones.      

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2 Comments

When a studio purchases a film such as this and then decides to release it 10 months from now, what are they doing with the film during that time? Or is it purely a waiting game, are they waiting until Oscar season to release it with hopes of a better chance at being nominated? How often do these acquisitions result in studio mandated reshoots?

January 31, 2017 at 12:51PM

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Chris Kas
Jack of all trades
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Pretty sure they buy a finished product. Creating films and distributing films is an entire different kind of sports. The studios know which release date / pattern will make them the most money, which both serves the makers and the studio.

February 1, 2017 at 5:44AM

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