The Farewell streaming deal

After a rapturous reception at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Lulu Wang‘s The Farewell shot to the top of the most anticipated indies of the year and sold to A24 for a deal estimated between $6 million and $7 million. But it turns out that this wasn’t the only deal that Wang was considering. The filmmaker revealed that a “streaming company” counter-offered A24 with a deal that was “more than double” the amount that the beloved indie distributor was offering. But Wang ultimately turned them down.

In a new interview with Vulture, Wang revealed that she was torn between A24’s $6-7 million offer and a nearly $15 million offer from a “streaming company” that she left unnamed. But we can probably assume which company it is, considering a certain service’s penchant for snapping up indie sensations and burying them in their crowded collections (cough, Netflix). But for a rising star like Wang, who makes her feature directorial debut with The Farewell, it was a deal that seemed too good to pass up. She told Vulture:

“I was pretty upset because we were all so happy with the [A24] deal before this other offer came in. That’s kind of how capitalism works — it ruins things because it shifts your perspective entirely.”

But then in stepped Wang’s mom, who persuaded Wang to go with the deal that would give The Farewell the platform it deserves. Wang recalls calling her mom and saying, “I can buy you a house now. And you can tell all your friends.” But her mom harshly replied, “Why would you buy me a freaking house? I already have a house. The film is your baby and you have to give it to the place that is not necessarily the wealthiest, but will give it the most love and joy and bring it into the world in the right way.”

Ultimately, Wang realized “it wasn’t about a number.” She went with A24, which was offering The Farewell a traditional theatrical release, through which the indie film could build word-of-mouth buzz and grow into the cultural sensation it’s on its way to being. A “streaming service” would likely not have given The Farewell the same slow rollout and marketing campaign — a problem that continues to persist with other indie films that end up disappearing on services like Netflix, whose overabundance of content ends up inadvertently hiding fantastic little-known films. Though streaming services offer a wider audience, they don’t necessarily guarantee a widespread impact, especially for little indie films. And with A24 distributing the film, The Farewell will eventually make its way to a streaming platform anyway — the distributor has a deal with Amazon Prime.

The Farewell star Awkwafina praises Wang for making the right decision and sticking by A24. “She has that tenacity, that willingness to say no and to fight for things that she believes are right,” Awkwafina told Vulture. “I think that is surprising because you don’t really think that about people like us, you know? She’s a boss bitch.” 

The Farewell opens in select theaters July 12, 2019.

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