Sundance Film Festival kicked off last Thursday in Utah, and there’s already plenty of gossip, reviews, and sound bites from actors and filmmakers trickling out. So here are some of the weirdest, most interesting, and most significant updates from Sundance so far:
Amazon and Netflix are on a buying spree.
Amazon swept up Love & Friendship, Author: the JT LeRoy Story, Complete Unknown—and Manchester by the Sea from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, which is already getting rave reviews. Netflix nabbed streaming rights to Under the Shadow, The Fundamentals of Caring, and Tallulah. (As the LA Times notes, both Amazon and Netflix were shut out at Sundance last year.) This year, things are very different: As of Monday, the New York Times reported that Netflix and Amazon are actually this year’s top buyers.
The Birth of a Nation smashed Sundance sales records.
The period drama based on Nat Turner’s 1831 rebellion has already struck a record-setting deal with Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million, and Variety reports that the Weinstein Company, Netflix, Paramount, and Sony also attempted to snatch up the film. According to Variety film editor Ramin Setoodeh, the movie debuted to the festival’s most enthusiastic standing ovation so far.
People are also buzzing about—and walking out of—that movie where Daniel Radcliffe’s corpse farts.
In Swiss Army Man, Daniel Radcliffe plays a corpse that farts a lot, and thus serves as a sort of gas-powered motorboat for a lost man played by Paul Dano. Unsurprisingly, there was a steady stream of walk-outs. There’s also a scene where Radcliffe’s erection serves as a compass. Yep.
One encouraging theme: diversity.
The Oscars might be mired in a struggle to embrace and empower new, diverse voices, but it seems that at Sundance, things may be looking up. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jon Frosch points out:
American independent cinema undeniably has been dominated by white voices and faces (particularly hip ones from Williamsburg or Silver Lake) — often, it seems, to an even greater extent than studio films, with their reliable tokenism. But some of the buzziest selections at this year's Sundance have, it's true, been by or about people of color, or have grappled with issues of race in provocative ways.
A Bradley Cooper look-alike has been crashing Sundance parties.
This crafty man of mystery attempted to gain entry to a number of parties in Park City by dropping Cooper’s name, and even managed to convince this poor guy that he was in fact his doppelgänger. As proof of his totally legit celebrity status, he allegedly had his screensaver set to a still from The Hangover.
Kevin Smith said Ben Affleck’s Batman is the best Batman.
Those who have awaited Batman v Superman with a mixture of excitement and apprehension will perhaps be happy to know that Kevin Smith thinks, on top of being hands-down the “best-looking Batman we’ve ever seen,” Ben Affleck has also got the persona nailed down perfectly: “The hardest thing to nail about Batman is Bruce Wayne,” Smith told Variety, adding later, “But that dude is Bruce Wayne, so he’s born to play that role.” We’ll see.