Toni Collette

The big deals at Sundance: Why the movies sold and how they might succeed

The big deals at Sundance: Why the movies sold and how they might succeed

Last year’s Sundance Film Festival saw two of the priciest deals in the history of this gathering: Fox Searchlight’s record-breaking $17.5 million for “The Birth of a Nation” and Amazon/Roadside’s not quite as Brinks-busting $10 million for “Manchester by the Sea.”

Those films wound up with two, well, very different commercial fates. As much as dollars can be an indicator of a film’s value, they’re hardly an ironclad guarantee of success. Too many other factors can enter the picture between the January frenzy in the mountains and the fall derby into which many of these films will enter.

Judging by the totals in Park City this year, buyers are feeling optimistic. Very...

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