For Indie Studios, Sundance Kicks Off a Year of Experimentation

Sundance 2021: ”Why not try putting your film out in 10 cities instead of two on the first weekend and get more word of mouth?“ one executive tells TheWrap

For indie studios, 2021 is truly underway now that Sundance has arrived, even if the pandemic has forced the annual Utah event to go virtual. And distributors face a dual challenge: play the waiting game when it comes to theatrical releases or experiment with alternate distribution models.

Sales agents and distribution execs tell TheWrap that Sundance 2021 will likely be a streamers’ market thanks to the pandemic keeping theaters closed and companies like Hulu continuing to put up big bids as they have for films like last year’s “Palm Springs,” which Hulu and Neon teamed up to buy for a record-breaking $17.5 million. But if any film does get bought by a theatrical distributor, it may be up to a full year before it hits theaters, depending on whether or not the studio wants to place it in the awards race.

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com • Twitter: @jeremyfuster