Variety Magazine, on January 24th, 2017, issued an article entitled “Winners and Losers From Sundance 2017 (So Far)” by Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh, in which they discuss the business side of the spectrum of the independent film festival, specifically, the issue of studios and disturbers buying films for distribution into the film market. They suggest that buyers were relatively unnerved at the films at the Festival this year due to the political nature and the weak independent film market that the Festival gave, resulting in unattractive films to the average audience member:
Buyers were griping that the movies being screened at this year’s gathering were aggressively uncommercial and that agents were pushing for wide releases and big paydays for films that will appeal only to small audiences…Buyers are underwhelmed by this year’s batch of films so far, calling it one of the weakest festivals in recent memory. (Lang & Setoodeh 2017).
In terms of business, the article mentions that due to film’s rising prices, big companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and Apple can pay large sums without any competition or worry about making profits at movie theaters: “Even PepsiCo was at this year’s festival looking for content to help it sell soft drinks. That has left more traditional companies like Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight struggling to offer competitive bids while still trying to make a profit” (Lang & Setoodeh 2017).
When it comes to the winners and the losers, one of the losers was the market, which, as mentioned previously, was underwhelming, with no big box office indie hit to be had so far (Lang & Setoodeh 2017). However, two huge winners were Amazon and Neflix. Netflix alone made eight films that premiered at the festival and Amazon scored a deal with The Big Sick (Showalter 2017) team (Lang & Setoodeh 2017).
In short, the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, while entertaining, was plagued with politics and un-marketable films. Hopefully, there shall be something marketable if the actual marketing is done correctly. A hopeful marketable film, The Nile Hilton Incident (Saleh 2017), while dealing with political turmoil in Egypt, with the centerpiece being on the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, was not inherently trying to push a political agenda, in actuality, the film was more than likely trying to suggest that politically political films (i.e. films that deal with politics while simultaneously making a political statement – usually a criticism about a certain policy or position) are not always the best solution with dealing with the current political situation of the world. The main character of the film, a corrupt cop, is investigating a murder case. The film noir genre film, which is expertly done, actually redeems the cop and suggests that even the most corrupt people can be saved and corrected. So with this example, hopefully other companies, such as Fox Searchlight and Miramax can find something to market to the audiences.
Lang, Brent, and Ramin Setoodeh. “Winners and Losers From Sundance 2017 (So Far).” Variety. N.p., 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.
Nord, Liz, Jon Fusco, and Oakley Anderson-Moore. “Re: Sundance 2017: The Good, The Bad, and The Weird.” Audio blog comment. NoFilmSchool. N.p., 26 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.
The Big Sick. Dir. Michael Showalter. Apatow Productions, 2017. Film.
The Nile Hilton Incident . Dir. Tarik Saleh. Atmo Productions, 2017. Film.