Films Auctioned at Fests Often Dissappoint Later

   Feb. 1, 2019—Acquiring finished movies at film festivals is a celebrated activity generating breathless news reports and industry buzz. Chosen films are bought after informal industry auctions to later be put in general theatrical release—which is a marketing function.
   A Hollywood Reporter article by Tatiana Siegel recounts that fest deals—while often result of frenzied bidding—usually turn out to be busts. That's when
the films fought over at fest auctions later fizzle commercial theatrical release.
   “The market is littered with expensive duds, including 2008's Hamlet 2 ($10 million to Focus) and 2015's Dope ($7 million to Open Road with an expensive wide-release commitment),” writes Siegel. Suburban rapper drama Patti Cake$ in 2017 with Fox Searchlight is another disappointment. There are some encouraging such as hit music drama Whiplash in 2014 by Sony Pictures Classics.
  The 2019 edition of the just-ended Sundance film fest experienced brisk sales of films, according to Variety: "Late Night, Mindy Kaling’s look at diversity in writer’s rooms, picked up a massive $13 million domestic distribution deal, a record price for stateside rights. The political thriller The Report and heart-warming comedy Brittany Runs A Marathon nabbed $14 million global pacts. And Bllinded by the Light, an ode to all things Bruce Springsteen, scored a $15 million worldwide sale to New Line, the biggest of the festival."
  For the top films, acquisition prices for domestic rights only range from $1-10 million, with most at the lower end of that range.

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