Power Dealmakers: Who's Repping the Streamers at Sundance

6:00 AM 1/22/2020

by Piya Sinha-Roy

From Apple+ to HBO Max, Park City will be crawling with acquisition execs on the hunt for content.

Illustration by Hartley Lin

It was the independent studio that once reigned supreme at Sundance, snapping up exciting new projects and filmmakers with the promise of showcasing their work on the big screen. But in the age of deep-pocketed streamers — Netflix committed $15 billion for original content in 2019, Amazon devoted $7.5 billion, Apple appointed $6 billion and Hulu spent $2.5 billion — indie filmmakers are finding new demand for their work on the small screen. Here's who'll be repping the streamers on the ground in Park City.

  • Amazon

    Amazon led Sundance acquisitions in 2019, throwing down a whopping $47 million for five movies, including $13 million for Late Night and $5 million for Honey Boy. While neither quite paid off at the box office (the former grossed $22 million worldwide, the latter $3.2 million), both have proved popular on the streaming service. This year, Amazon movie heads Ted Hope, Julie Rapaport and Matt Newman will be after new content at the fest.

  • Apple TV+

    Apple has kept a quiet presence at Sundance. It was only last year that the tech giant made its first acquisition with the drama Hala. Expect Matt Dentler, Apple's head of feature development and acquisitions, to be joined by Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, Apple's heads of worldwide video, in Park City.

  • Disney+

    Disney+ won't reveal who's heading to Sundance, but sellers say the streamer, which will debut its family adventure Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made on Jan. 25 in the Kids section, is sending a team of acquisition execs in search of kid-friendly fare. Nonfiction content could also be on their radar. "They seem to be particularly interested in documentaries," says Submarine exec Josh Braun.

  • HBO Max

    HBO is a Sundance regular, picking up features such as 2018's Emmy-nominated The Tale and 2019's Share and premiering such documentaries as Leaving Neverland and Alex Gibney's The Inventor: Out for Blood last year. As the cable network readies the launch of its HBO Max streaming platform in May, Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, will be at Sundance overseeing acquisition efforts.

  • Hulu

    Usually known to be documentary-focused at Sundance, Hulu is returning with the highly anticipated Hillary, the portrait of Hillary Clinton that is directed by Nanette Burstein. Leading its acquisitions efforts this year will be Belisa Balaban, vp documentaries, and Brian Kendig, director of content acquisition.

  • Netflix

    Netflix has slowed on acquisitions a bit in recent years, picking up two docs — Knock Down the House and the Oscar-nominated American Factory — and one series, Delhi Crime Story, in 2019. This year's Sundance team will be fronted by vp independent film and documentary features Lisa Nishimura, vp independent film Ian Bricke, vp documentary features Adam Del Deo and director of independent film Ivana Lombardi.

    This story first appeared in the Jan. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.