The performance of films like “CODA” and “Passing” show how the measures of success are changing as the independent film market moves away from theaters
While streamers like Netflix, Apple and Hulu are expected to continue making big deals for the hottest movies at this year’s remote Sundance Film Festival, the still opaque nature of streaming viewership data has made more difficult to gauge whether buyers are getting their money’s worth – as an analysis of last year’s record deals shows.
Clearly, the ongoing pandemic meant that any Sundance pickup that aimed for a theatrical release didn’t see much box office revenue, as older audiences who support arts and crafts movies trial have largely stayed at home. In July, Searchlight released the Questlove documentary “Summer of Soul (Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” simultaneously in theaters and on Hulu after acquiring it from Park City for $12 million, a movie record. of non-fiction.
In theaters, the film just brought in $3.7 million worldwide. By comparison, three documentaries that premiered at Sundance in 2018 — “RBG,” “Three Identical Strangers” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” all earned over $10 million in a limited domestic release.