Following a bidding war that involved Sony Pictures Classics, Universal, Fox Searchlight and Lionsgate, Manchester by the Sea has been scooped up by Amazon.
The deal secured all domestic rights for the Kenneth Lonergan-helmed film, but Amazon will bring on a theatrical distributor and many suitors are circling. The move follows a trend this Sundance of streamers stepping up with huge offers and outbidding traditional theatrical distributors, as Netflix did with Paul Rudd’s The Fundamentals of Caring (nearly $7 million) and Ellen Page’s Tallulah ($5 million) before the festival.
Manchester by the Sea made its world premiere at Sundance on Saturday night, drawing some of the strongest reviews yet of the festival. In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy called Manchester, “a wrenching family tragedy [that] is dramatized with the depth of a high-quality American stage piece.”
The film is seen as an awards-season contender, particularly for star Casey Affleck.
Affleck headlines the film as Lee Chandler, a stubbornly independent handyman in Boston, who upon the sudden death of his brother, is named the caretaker of his 16-year-old nephew.
Manchester also stars Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges and Kyle Chandler.
Lonergan, writer and director of 2000’s Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner You Can Count on Me, also wrote Manchester. Matt Damon produced along with Kimberly Steward, Lauren Beck, Kevin Walsh and Chris Moore. Josh Godfrey, Declan Baldwin and Bill Migliore executive produced the project that was originally packaged as a Damon starring vehicle.
WME Global repped the filmmakers.
The film is Amazon’s latest Sundance acquisition, following Jeff Feuerzeig’s stranger-than-fiction documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story.