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Chris Willard/Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

The biggest movie deals and awards from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Posted - Feb. 4, 2020 at 2:47 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2020 Sundance Film Festival came to a close Sunday, kickstarting the movie year with big spending from major studios and more changes for the festival.

The Steven Yeun-starring family drama "Minari" came away with the festival’s prestigious Grand Jury Prize for U.S. dramatic films. "Boys State," which documents a gathering of 1,000 17-year-old Texan boys who meet to form a government, won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. documentaries.

"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness" — a co-production of Iran, France, Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg — won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for dramatic films, and the Austrian-French film "Epicentro" won the Grand Jury Prize for world cinema documentaries.

“Minari” also won an audience award, along with Mexican/Spanish film "Identifying Features" and documentaries "Crip Camp" and "The Reason I Jump." The full list of award winners can be found on the Sundance Institute's website.

Meanwhile, the institute announced a new director for the film festival.

Tabitha Jackson will take over the role from John Cooper, who will move to a director emeritus role after being in charge of the film festival since 2009.

Jackson was the director of the Sundance Institute documentary film program since 2013. She is also an award-winning filmmaker, according to a news release from the institute.

“It is exciting to be amplifying the voices and work of independent artists in these challenging and fast-changing times,” Jackson said in the release. “My role, working with a team at the top of their game, will be to ensure that the festival remains as effective, vital and transformational in the years going forward as it has been in the past — and to make sure that we have fun doing it. I can’t wait to get started.”

Director Lee Isaac Chung wins the Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic for "Minari" on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival. (Photo: Jovelle Tamayo, courtesy of the Sundance Institute)

Though it wasn’t recognized for any awards, the film "Palm Springs" landed the biggest, record-breaking deal from the festival. Film distributor Neon, along with Hulu, purchased the Andy Samberg-starring comedy for a reported $17,500,000.69, just barely becoming the most expensive Sundance deal ever, according to Deadline.

The film has drawn comparisons to “Groundhog Day” for its tale following two wedding guests who find themselves unable to escape the wedding.

The Birth of a Nation,” which was acquired at $17.5 million in 2016, was previously the most expensive film to be bought at the festival. Deadline reported the Neon/Hulu deal for “Palm Springs” was actually closer to $22 million.

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti appear in "Palm Springs," directed by Max Barbakow, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo: Chris Willard, courtesy of the Sundance Institute)

Here’s a roundup of some of the other major deals from Sundance this year:


  • "Herself": Amazon picked up the Irish drama for an undisclosed price.
  • "Uncle Frank": Amazon purchased the drama from “Six Feet Under” showrunner Alan Ball for around $12 million. The film follows a teenager who leaves home in 1973 to study at New York University with her professor uncle (Paul Bettany), whom she soon discovers has been secretly living as a gay man.

Steven Garza appears in "Boys State," directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo: Thorsten Thielow, courtesy of Sundance Institute)


  • "Boys State": Apple TV bought the award-winning documentary in conjunction with distributor A24.


  • "Bad Hair": Hulu bought the rights for the horror-comedy, which opened on the first night of the festival, for around $8 million, according to IndieWire.
  • "Palm Springs": As highlighted above, Hulu and distributor Neon purchased the comedy for a reported $17,500,000.69.

Radha Blank appears in "The 40-Year-Old Version," directed by Radha Blank, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo: Jeong Park, courtesy of the Sundance Institute)


  • "His House": Netflix bought the rights to the thriller film for an unknown price. The movie follows a refugee couple who escape from Sudan, but things start to go wrong with their new life in a small English town.
  • "Mucho Mucho Amor": The documentary follows the story of Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado up to his disappearance in 2007. Netflix bought the rights to the film for an unknown price.
  • "The 40-Year-Old Version": Last week, Netflix was close to closing a deal in the “mid- to high-seven figures” range for the film, according to Deadline. The black-and-white film follows a woman struggling with being single and trying to make it as an artist at age 40.

Sony Pictures Classics

  • "I Carry You With Me": The immigrant love story follows two young men, a chef and a teacher, and is based on a true story. Sony Pictures Classics bought the film, which is scheduled to be released later this year, for an unknown price.
  • "The Father": The film stars Olivia Colman as a woman taking care of her aging father, played by Anthony Hopkins. Sony Pictures Classics bought the film, seen as one of the most in-demand titles at Sundance, for an unknown price.
  • "The Truffle Hunters": Sony Pictures Classics bought the documentary, which follows a group of Italian men who search for rare white Alba truffles, for $1.5 million, according to Variety.

A still from "Siempre, Luis," directed by John James, an official selection of the Special Events program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo: Carlos Garciade Dios, courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Other deals

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Jacob Klopfenstein

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