Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Sundance: Casey Affleck Hit Rolls the Dice and Takes Amazon $10 Mil Bid Over Established Distributors


The word from Sundance is that Amazon was the accepted high bidder– a whopping $10 million– for Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea.”

Several established distributors like Fox Searchlight and Focus also bid on the praised film starring Casey Affleck. But amazon wants an Oscar and will pay for it. No one can blame playwright Lonergan for taking the big check. His last film, “Margaret,” dragged on for years in a tortuous experience with Fox Searchlight. It lost money for everyone.

But Amazon is a gamble for feature films. While they are doing very well with original TV shows like “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle,” their movie marketing acumen is a question mark. They released Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” through Roadside Attractions and, like all Roadside projects, it died. (I call them Roadkill.) “Chi-Raq” has made only $2.6 mil since December 4th. It was ignored by the Oscars. “Manchester” will also be dead if goes through “RAtt.”

Plus, there is the lesson of Netflix’s foray into feature with “Beasts of No Nation.” By going day and date in theaters and on TV sets (or computer screens), they sent the message to Oscar voters that “Beasts” wasn’t really a movie.

Already my friend Scott Feinberg, who covers awards season, tweeted that “”Manchester”‘s Oscar chance have “passed away.” Let’s hope not. Amazon just has to be savvy enough to make “Manchester” a big deal MOVIE and not something to put in the checkout basket.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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