Andy Samberg’s Palm Springs just broke the nicest records at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival this year. Hulu and Neon acquired the romantic-comedy for $17.5 million…and 69 cents. The number broke Sundance sale records for the biggest acquisition deal, sailing past Nate Parker’s 2016 film The Birth of a Nation by, yes, 69 cents. And while Hulu and Neon made a historic deal worthy of a few winks and nudges, Apple and A24 celebrated a more serious record-breaking deal in their acquisition of Boys State, a buzzy documentary that at $12 million, became the highest-paid documentary in Sundance history.
Deadline broke the news that Hulu and Neon broke Sundance sales records with its $17,500,000.69 acquisition of Palm Springs. The company was very intent on announcing that price to the penny, as those last 69 cents pushes the deal just past the 2016 Sundance hit The Birth of a Nation, which Fox Searchlight acquired for $17.5 million. That makes Palm Springs the record-holder for the biggest Sundance deal, certainly an impressive price for a modestly budgeted comedy that nonetheless earned raves out of the festival.
Samberg, who stars in the film alongside Cristin Milioti, and his producers Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone of The Lonely Island, and Becky Sloviter released a celebratory announcement very in line with the inside joke in the acquisition numbers.
“We spent over 85 million dollars of our own money on this movie, WE ARE TAKING A BATH on this deal,” Samberg, Schaffer, Taccone, and Sloviter wrote. “We hope NEON and Hulu are happy but we definitely have a lot of explaining to do to our families.”
Here is the synopsis to Palm Springs:
While stuck at a wedding in Palm Springs, Nyles (Andy Samberg) meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor and family black sheep. After he rescues her from a disastrous toast, Sarah becomes drawn to Nyles and his offbeat nihilism. But when their impromptu tryst is thwarted by a surreal interruption, Sarah must join Nyles in embracing the idea that nothing really matters, and they begin wreaking spirited havoc on the wedding celebration.
Meanwhile fellow streamer-indie distributor team Apple and A24 were not to be shown up by Hulu and Neon. The companies acquired the worldwide rights to the documentary Boys State for $12 million — setting a new record for the largest sale for a documentary ever at a festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The documentary, which chronicles an “unusual experiment” that gathered 1,000 17-year-old boys from across the state of Texas to build a representative government from the ground up. Directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, Boys State is a buzzy documentary that is being called this year’s American Factory, which earned an Oscar nod.
Apple and A24 beat out Netflix and Hulu for the film, which were also reportedly bidding at $12 million. The previous record holder for the largest documentary sale was 2019’s Knock Down the House, which sold for $10 million. A24 will release Boys State theatrically.
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