Netflix, Amazon battle for new films at Sundance

The latest battle between Internet video-streaming giant Netflix and up-and-coming rival Amazon is occurring on a field better known as a place where Hollywood power brokers celebrate making deals by hitting the ski slopes.

The annual Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah, has seen a, well, snowstorm of activity since it started last Thursday, with Netflix and Amazon seemingly in a race to out-purchase each other for new, exclusive movies. The New York Times reported Tuesday that so far, Los Gatos-based Netflix has bought three films, and is looking for more, while Seattle’s Amazon has purchased the rights to four movies. The most notable purchase so far as been the $10 million Amazon paid to acquire “Manchester by the Sea,” a drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.

Both Netflix and Amazon have a track record of producing or acquiring dozens of original TV programs. Lately, Netflix has become part of the debate over crime and punishment in the U.S. as a result of its “Making a Murderer” documentary series. In the fall, Amazon made history when Jeffrey Tambor won the Emmy Award for best lead actor in a comedy series for the show “Transparent,” marking the first time an Internet-based series won one of the top acting Emmys.

But the streaming companies’ desire for more original movies has led to a shakeup in Hollywood, where so-called independent or art house films have found a ready market online. According to the Times, at Sundance, Netlflix paid $5 million for the streaming rights to “Tallulah,” a dramedy starring Ellen Page, and also put down $7 million to acquire a road movie called “The Fundamentals of Caring,” starring Paul Rudd.

Netflix is expected to focus mostly on bringing its new films directly to the streaming service, but may do some limited theater releases like it did with 2015’s “Beast of No Nation.”

Amazon, however, has said it is likely to press for broader theatrical runs for its films before offering them on the company’s Prime streaming service. In addition to acquiring “Manchester by the Sea” at Sundance, Amazon has also paid $2 million a piece for “Complete Unknown,” starring Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz, and “Love & Friendship,” which is based on a novella by Jane Austen.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


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  • > marking the first time an Internet-based series won one of the top acting Emmys.

    3 episode (~15 mins each) DrHorriblesSingalongBlog also won an Emmy. Proof:

    DrH’s dvd/br is still available for sale, or check it out free from the santa clara county library, and findable on YouTube as well. # Polish captioning