Sundance Film Festival Market Preview: Could Fears of a WGA Strike Fuel a Buying Spree?

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With COVID delays no longer a factor, all parties hope that belt-tightening among streamers won’t blunt potential bidding wars

sundance 2023 pod generation shortcomings cat person
"The Pod Generation," "Cat Person" and "Shortcomings" will screen at Sundance 2023. (Sundance Institute)

With COVID-related production and release delays mostly in the rearview mirror, those arriving this week at the Sundance Film Festival will face another potential conundrum.

The hope among filmmakers and interested sellers is that the dual requirements of a two-tracked exhibition system — films for theaters and movies for streaming — will fuel a bull market. Fears abound that as streamers claim to restore fiscal sanity while Wall Street no longer cares about subscribers and content spends, the reckless content splurges of the past will cease to drive eyes-are-bigger-than-your-stomach purchases.

Save for Amazon’s Prime Video and Apple TV+, which arguably can still overbid, studios and streamers might be less willing to throw money at high-profile but commercially questionable titles.