Hollywood’s Sundance Spending Spree This Year Faces a Box Office Reckoning

Trey Williams

At least four of the buzziest films at 2019’s Sundance Film Festival were acquired for anywhere between $13 million and $15 million. That’s a hefty pricetag for a crop of films that at most hope to do modest business at the indie box office. Two of those, Amazon Studios’ “Late Night” and Warner Bros.’ “Blinded by the Light,” have hit already theaters, underperforming to expectations based on their festival price tags and the conversation that followed them out of Park City. Warner Bros.’s New Line banner released its $15 million Bruce Springsteen-inspired Sundance acquisition “Blinded by the Light” from director Gurinder Chadha wide in theaters on August 16. The film grossed just $4.3 million in its opening weekend and was deemed a disappointment. Those less-than-stellar performances put upcoming Amazon’s two upcoming Sundance acquisitions — “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” which comes out this weekend, and next month’s “The Report” — under a magnifying glass. Also Read: Inside the Economics of the Modern Indie Studio: Forget Home Runs, Aim for Singles and Doubles “Frankly, it’s been a bad year,” Magnolia Pictures President Eamonn Bowles said. With few — importantly cheaper — exceptions, the Sundance films released in theaters so far this year...

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