movies sold at sundance

As the first major film festival of the year, Sundance is ground zero for distributors discovering some of the gems that will populate film release schedules throughout the rest of the year. Here is our list of movies sold at Sundance 2018 so far, which should be coming to theaters, VOD, and streaming services in the near future.

In this update: The Sentence, The Tale, and Sorry to Bother You.

These Movies Sold at Sundance 2018

We will be updating this post with 2018 Sundance Film Festival acquisitions throughout the festival and beyond. The post is organized from newest to oldest, with the latest acquisitions on the top.

The Sentence - Still 1

The Sentence

Acquired: January 27

By: HBO Films

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Rudy Valdez

Starring: N/A

Other Info: HBO plans to debut this documentary film later this year.

Plot Synopsis: Drawing from hundreds of hours of footage, filmmaker Rudy Valdez shows the aftermath of his sister Cindy’s incarceration for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend—something known, in legal terms, as “the girlfriend problem.” Cindy’s 15-year mandatory sentence is hard on everyone, but for her husband and children, Cindy’s sudden banishment feels like a kind of death that becomes increasingly difficult to grapple with.

The Tale - Still 1

The Tale

Acquired: January 26

By: HBO Films

Purchase Price: The high seven figure range

Director: Jennifer Fox

Starring: Laura Dern, Isabelle Nélisse, Jason Ritter, Elizabeth Debicki, Ellen Burstyn, Common

Other Info: The film will premiere on HBO, so look for this one to be a possible Emmys player.

Plot Synopsis: Jennifer, a globetrotting journalist and professor, lives an enviable life with her boyfriend in New York City. That is, until her mother finds a story Jennifer wrote at age 13 depicting a “special” relationship with two adult coaches. Reading the yellowed pages of “The Tale,” Jennifer discovers the coded details she composed 40 years earlier are quite unlike her recollection. Deeply shaken yet determined to square her version of events with the truth, Jennifer sets out to find her two coaches. Returning to the Carolina horse farm where so much transpired, Jennifer’s gangly yet tenacious seventh-grade self reawakens, and the loving stories she told herself for decades begin to unravel.

Sorry to Bother You review

Sorry to Bother You

Acquired: January 25

By: Annapurna

Purchase Price: Seven figures

Director: Boots Riley

Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yeun, Jermaine Fowler, Armie Hammer, Omari Hardwick

Other Info: This was apparently a highly competitive deal, with Annapurna emerging victorious. You can read Ben Pearson’s very positive review right here.

Plot Synopsis: Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a 30-something black telemarketer with self-esteem issues, discovers a magical selling power living inside of him. Suddenly he’s rising up the ranks to the elite team of his company, which sells heinous products and services. The upswing in Cassius’s career raises serious red flags with his brilliant girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), a sign-twirling gallery artist who is secretly a part of a Banksy-style collective called Left Eye. But the unimaginable hits the fan when Cassius meets the company’s cocaine-snorting, orgy-hosting, obnoxious, and relentlessly optimistic CEO, Steve Lift (Armie Hammer).

puzzle

Puzzle

Acquired: January 25

By: Sony Pictures Classics

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Marc Turtletaub

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, David Denman, Bubba Weiler, Austin Abrams, Liv Hewson

Other Info: N/A

Plot Synopsis: Agnes has been a devoted housewife for decades, living a quietly sheltered life in suburban Connecticut. When she’s gifted a thousand-piece puzzle for her birthday, Agnes finally discovers something she’s passionate about and unusually skilled at. Her hobby gradually evolves into a quest for self-awareness and leads her to team up with Robert, a fellow maverick who introduces her to an unexpected world of puzzle competitions. Agnes is soon swapping household chores for secretive train rides to New York City, where Robert helps her unlock a desire to finally march to the beat of her own drum for the first time in her life.

Lizzie review

Lizzie

Acquired: January 25

By: Saban Films

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Craig William Macneill

Starring: Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jamey Sheridan, Fiona Shaw, Kim Dickens, Denis O’Hare

Other Info: You can read Ben Pearson’s review of Lizzie right here.

Plot Synopsis: 1892: Headstrong Lizzie Borden lives with her wealthy father, stepmother, and sister in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie lovingly tends to her pet pigeons and is occasionally allowed out of her dimly lit, foreboding house, but otherwise lives under strict rules set by her domineering father. When her family hires live-in maid Bridget, an uneducated Irish immigrant, the two find kindred spirits in one another. Their friendship begins with covert communication and companionship that blossoms into an intimate relationship. Meanwhile, tension builds in the Borden household, and Lizzie’s claustrophobic existence becomes increasingly more oppressive and abusive, leading to its inevitable breaking point.

sundance 2018 american animals

American Animals

Acquired: January 24

By: The Orchard and MoviePass Ventures

Purchase Price: $3 million

Director: Bart Layton

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Udo Kier

Other Info: American Animals is the first ever acquisition for MoviePass Ventures. You can read Ben Pearson’s review right here.

Plot Synopsis: Lexington, Kentucky, 2004: Spencer and Warren dream of remarkable lives beyond their middle-class suburban existence. They head off to colleges in the same town, haunted by the fear they may never be special in any way. Spencer is given a tour of his school’s incredibly valuable rare book collection and describes it all to Warren. Suddenly, it hits them—they could pull off one of the most audacious art thefts in recent history, from the university’s special collections library. Convinced they can get away with it, they recruit two other friends. Suddenly, the dance of knowing what happens if they cross the line becomes all-consuming.

three identical strangers

Three Identical Strangers

Acquired: January 24

By: Neon

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Tim Wardle

Starring: N/A

Other Info: This documentary is Neon’s third acquisition at Sundance 2018.

Plot Synopsis: New York, 1980: Three complete strangers—Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman—make the astounding discovery that they are identical triplets. Separated at birth, adopted, and raised by three different families, the 19-year-olds are reunited by chance. Their story sets the tabloids on fire, and the triplets suddenly become famous around the world. The brothers forge a relationship and become fast friends. They move in together in a swinging bachelor pad and open a restaurant that skyrockets to success. The toast of Manhattan, the triplets are living the high life. But their fairy-tale reunion sets off a chain of events that ultimately unearths an extraordinary and sinister secret that could answer controversial questions at the heart of human behavior.

SPHERES: Songs of Spacetime - Still 2

Spheres: Songs of Spacetime

Acquired: January 24

By: CityLights

Purchase Price: Seven figures

Director: Eliza McNitt

Starring: N/A

Other Info: This Darren Aronofsky-produced VR series will debut on the Oculus Rift in 2018.

Plot Synopsis: One billion years ago, two black holes violently crashed into one another, creating gravitational waves … and music that only recently has been discovered. For the first time, instead of looking at the universe, we are beckoned to listen to it. SPHERES: Songs of Spacetime is a celestial experience that transports you inside a black hole collision to embark on a musical journey that visualizes gravitational waves and provokes a rich contemplation of the human connection to the cosmos.

Blindspotting review

Blindspotting

Acquired: January 24

By: Lionsgate

Purchase Price: text

Director: Carlos López Estrada

Starring: Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones

Other Info: You can read Ben Pearson’s rave review of this film right here.

Plot Synopsis: Collin is trying to make it through his final days of probation for an infamous arrest he can’t wait to put behind him. Always by his side is his fast-talking childhood bestie, Miles, who has a knack for finding trouble. They grew up together in the notoriously rough Oakland, a.k.a. “The Town,” which has become the new trendy place to live in the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. But when Collin’s chance for a fresh start is interrupted by a life-changing missed curfew, his friendship with Miles is forced out of its comfortable buddy-comedy existence, and the Bay boys are set on a spiraling collision course with each other.

rbg

RBG

Acquired: January 24

By: Magnolia and Participant Media

Purchase Price: N/A

Directors: Betsy West and Julie Cohen

Cast: N/A

Other Info: CNN Films has U.S. broadcast rights to RBG.

Plot Synopsis: As the United States Supreme Court leans increasingly to the right, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vigorous dissenting opinions and ferocious 20-push-up workouts have earned this tiny, soft-spoken intellectual giant the status of rock star and the title “Notorious RBG.” What many don’t know is Ginsburg’s strategic, trailblazing role in defining gender-discrimination law. Intent on systematically releasing women from second-class status, she argued six pivotal gender-bias cases in the 1970s before an all-male Supreme Court blind to sexism. Now 84, and still inspired by the lawyers who defended free speech during the Red Scare, Ginsburg refuses to relinquish her passionate duty, steadily fighting for equal rights for all citizens under the law. Through intimate interviews and unprecedented access to Ginsburg’s life outside the court, RBG tells the electric story of Ginsburg’s consuming love affairs with both the Constitution and her beloved husband Marty—and of a life’s work that led her to become an icon of justice in the highest court in the land.

sundance acquisitions assassination nation

Assassination Nation

Acquired: January 23

By: Neon

Purchase Price: $10 million-plus

Director: Sam Levinson

Starring: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Bill Skårsgard, Bella Thorne

Other Info: The first eight-figure deal at this year’s Sundance film festival.

Plot Synopsis: High school senior Lily and her crew of besties live in a haze of texts, posts, selfies, and chats—just like the rest of us. So when a provocateur starts posting details from the private digital lives of everyone in their small town of Salem, the result is a Category 5 shitstorm. We’re talking browser histories, direct messages, illegal downloads, secret text chains, and way, way, way worse. People get angry. Like, “rampaging murder posse” angry. And Lily finds herself right in the middle.

sundance acquisitions revenge

Revenge

Acquired: January 23

By: Shudder/Neon

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Coralie Fargeat

Starring: Marc-Etienne Schwartz, Jean-Yves Robin, Marc Stanimirovic

Other Info: Neon will distribute Revenge in theaters before it premieres on Shudder later this year.

Plot Synopsis: Jen joins her married lover, Richard, for a romp at his secluded desert villa before his annual hunting vacation. However, when his leering pals arrive, they’re a far cry from Richard’s millionaire-Adonis charms, and they feel entitled to make their own advances on Jen and ignore her rejections. After being violently assaulted and left for dead in the middle of the desert, Jen comes back to life, and the men’s hunting game is transformed into a ruthless manhunt.

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Search

Acquired: January 22

By: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions

Purchase Price: $5 million

Director: Aneesh Chaganty

Starring: John Cho, Debra Messing

Other Info: Search was our own Ben Pearson’s favorite film at Sundance this year and you can read his review right here.

Plot Synopsis: After a five-minute sequence of the Kim family’s online activity that beautifully relays a decade of their shared lives, Search drops us into the current online existence of family patriarch David and daughter Margot, a high school freshman. Parenting mainly through iMessages and quick FaceTime chats, David is initially more annoyed than concerned when a series of his texts go unreturned, but he soon realizes Margot has gone missing. While a helpful detective searches for Margot out in the real world, David grasps at rediscovering his daughter in an unfamiliar online landscape as he searches through the traces she left behind on her laptop.

America To Me - Still 1

America to Me

Acquired: January 22

By: Starz

Purchase Price: $5 million

Director: Steve James

Starring: N/A

Other Info: This is one of the first major television deals to emerge from Sundance. Starz will premiere the series this Fall.

Plot Synopsis: This 10-part documentary series spends a year at Oak Park and River Forest High School, a diverse and high-achieving school outside of Chicago. Digging deep into the experiences of black students, America to Me sparks extremely candid conversations about what has succeeded and what has failed in the quest to achieve racial equality and overcome bias in our education system.

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Monsters and Men

Acquired: January 22

By: Neon

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Starring: John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chanté Adams, Nicole Beharie, Rob Morgan

Other Info: One of the first major sales that occurred at this year’s Sundance.

Plot Synopsis: One night, in front of a bodega in Brooklyn’s Bed–Stuy neighborhood, Manny Ortega witnesses a white police officer wrongfully gun down a neighborhood street hustler, and Manny films the incident on his phone. Now he’s faced with a dilemma: release the video and bring unwanted exposure to himself and his family, or keep the video private and be complicit in the injustice?

The Guilty - Still 2

The Guilty

Acquired: January 22

By: Magnolia

Purchase Price:

Director: Gustav Möller

Starring: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Johan Olsen, Omar Shargawi

Other Info: Magnolia has North American rights to The Guilty, but no release window has been announced.

Plot Synopsis: When police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is demoted to desk work, he expects a sleepy beat as an emergency dispatcher. That all changes when he answers a panicked phone call from a kidnapped woman who then disconnects abruptly. Asger, confined to the police station, is forced to use others as his eyes and ears as the severity of the crime slowly becomes more clear. The search to find the missing woman and her assailant will take every bit of his intuition and skill, as a ticking clock and his own personal demons conspire against him.

sundance acquisitions colette

Colette

Acquired: January 21

By: Bleecker Street and 30West

Purchase Price: $4 million-plus

Director: Wash Westmoreland

Starring: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Elinor Tomlinson, Aiysha Hart

Other Info: Sony Pictures Classics, Amazon and Fox Searchlight were among the bidders before Bleecker Street and 30West and secured the film. A traditional theatrical release is being planned.

Plot Synopsis: Colette (played with sumptuous feistiness by Keira Knightley) arrives from the countryside as a young bride to Willy—an older, notorious literary entrepreneur—and she is immediately swept into flamboyant, libertine society. At Willy’s prompt, she takes pen to paper and invents the loosely autobiographical Claudine novels, which take Paris by storm. The character Claudine becomes a veritable pop-culture icon, but Colette does not, since Willy takes authorial credit. To reclaim her literary voice, Colette must set out for new transgressive adventures, sans Willy.

My Abandonment

Leave No Trace

Acquired: January 21

By: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Debra Granik

Starring: Ben Foster, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Jeff Kober, Dale Dickey

Other Info: Sony has only acquired the international rights. Domestic rights are expected to sell soon.

Plot Synopsis: For years Will and his teenage daughter, Tom, have lived off the grid, blissfully undetected by authorities in a vast nature reserve on the edge of Portland, Oregon. When a chance encounter blows their cover, they’re removed from their camp and put into the charge of social services. Struggling to adapt to their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a perilous journey back to the wilderness, where they are finally forced to confront conflicting desires—a longing for community versus a fierce need to live apart.

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Hearts Beat Loud

Acquired: January 19

By: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Gunpowder & Sky

Purchase Price:

Director: Brett Haley

Starring: Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons, Ted Danson, Sasha Lane, Blythe Danner, Toni Collette

Other Info: The closing night film of Sundance 2018, international rights to Hearts Beat Loud were acquired by Sony before its official festival screening. North American rights were acquired by Gunpowder & Sky shortly after. You can read Ethan Anderton’s review of the movie right here.

Plot Synopsis: As single dad Frank (Nick Offerman) prepares to send hardworking daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemons) off to UCLA pre-med, he also reluctantly realizes he has to accept that his own record-store business is failing. Hoping to stay connected with his daughter through their shared love of music, he urges her to turn their weekly “jam sesh” into an actual band. Channeling Sam’s resistance into a band name, they unexpectedly find We’re Not a Band’s first song turning into a minor Spotify hit, and they use their songwriting efforts to work through their feelings about the life changes each of them faces.

bodied review

Bodied

Acquired: January 17

By: YouTube

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Joseph Kahn

Starring: Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Shoniqua Shondai, Walter Perez, Rory Uphold, Anthony Michael Hall

Other Info: YouTube will release Bodied in theaters before making it available on YouTube Red. Read our review from its Fantastic Fest screening right here.

Plot Synopsis: Adam is a grad student like any other. He’s polite, aware of his position as a white, middle-class liberal and almost apologetic for his privilege. He obsessively and academically digs into his thesis subject of battle rap, but when a chance encounter in a garage sees him actually entering the arena himself as a word warrior, he discovers something within himself that he never knew existed. Freed from the shackles of his timidity, Adam refashions himself into a fierce competitor on the scene. But each rung on the ladder to success comes at a price that may end up being too high; not just for Adam, but also for those around him.

The King

Acquired: January 17

By: Oscilloscope

Purchase Price:

Director: Eugene Jarecki

Starring: N/A

Other Info: The King was acquired by Oscilloscope ahead of its Sundance screening.

Plot Synopsis: Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, the new film from two-time Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner Eugene Jarecki takes the King’s 1963 Rolls-Royce on a musical road trip across the country Presley left behind. From the deep south to New York, Las Vegas, and beyond, a tapestry of luminaries and unknown Americans join the journey, expressing themselves in words and song.

sundance acquisitions the price of everything

The Price of Everything

Acquired: January 16

By: HBO Documentary Films

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Nathaniel Kahn

Starring: N/A

Other Info: The Price of Everything was acquired by HBO Documentary Films ahead of its Sundance premiere.

Plot Synopsis: Basquiat paintings regularly fetch tens of millions of dollars, and the recent sale of a little-known Da Vinci topped $450 million—but what forces are driving the white-hot art market? Who assigns and who pays these astronomical sums? What currency adequately measures art’s value? The Price of Everything leads us into a rarefied labyrinth of galleries, studios, and auction houses to wrestle with these questions and explore what society loses and gains when art becomes a rich person’s commodity.

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Believer

Acquired: January 3

By: HBO Documentary Films

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Don Argott

Starring: N/A

Other Info: This documentary film features a score by Hans Zimmer. It will debut this summer on HBO.

Plot Synopsis: Dan Reynolds was just a normal Mormon kid from Utah. He did everything by the book, and his faith in God, family, and community held firm—even when he became a giant rock star. As the creative force behind the wildly successful band Imagine Dragons, Dan comes to a crossroads when he witnesses fellow members of the Mormon church spurned due to their sexual orientation. Since 2008, teen suicide rates in Utah have skyrocketed, which many people attribute to the Mormon church’s official stance regarding same-sex relationships. With an unrelenting desire to engender positive change within their tribe, Dan and openly gay former Mormon Tyler Glenn, lead singer of Neon Trees, decide to create LoveLoud, a music and spoken-word festival designed to spark dialogue between the church and members of the LGBTQ community.

Beast - Still 1

Beast

Acquired: December 1

By: 30West/Roadside Attractions

Purchase Price: N/A

Director: Michael Pearce

Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Trystan Gravelle, Geraldine James, Charley Palmer Rothwell

Other Info: One of several Sundance films acquired or co-acquired by newcomer 30West, Beast is eyeing a spring 2018 release.

Plot Synopsis: Moll is stuck. She’s isolated on Jersey, a tiny island in the English Channel. She’s also beset by her domineering mother and her history of mental fragility—not to mention the false pity it engenders. Freedom comes in an exceedingly unlikely form: local loner Pascal. Soon he and Moll are enmeshed in the sort of intense, overwhelming relationship that only two outcasts can forge. Nothing can stop them, not even Moll’s creeping suspicion that Pascal might be involved with a string of unspeakable crimes.

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Seeing Allred

Acquired: November 29

By: Netflix

Purchase Price: N/A

Directors: Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman

Starring: N/A

Other Info: This film will arrive on Netflix on February 9, 2018.

Plot Synopsis: To some, Gloria Allred is a money-grubbing, shrill feminist prone to tawdry theatrics; to others she’s the most effective and fearless women’s rights attorney in America. In this intimate, warts-and-all documentary, one thing is certain: Allred’s 40-year devotion to asserting, protecting, and expanding the rights of women is unwavering and her influence unassailable.

Whether fighting gender discrimination in toy stores, spousal abuse in the O.J. trial, or sexual harassment by Donald Trump, every case is personal and an opportunity to amplify the cause. Her special brand of advocacy often calls for creative solutions. When the statute of limitations prevented her clients from pressing charges against Bill Cosby, she led them in a battle to eliminate the statute for the benefit of future victims. At 75, like an unstoppable superhero with a rolling suitcase and no time to lose, she crisscrosses the country arguing cases, marching for justice, and delivering impromptu speeches on the Lincoln Memorial steps. And as the #MeToo movement gathers steam and powerful men fall, Allred knowingly, stoically declares, “The fight has only just begun.”

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