Sundance 2024 Film Festival Sales So Far: Netflix to Release Late Entry ‘We Are the World’ Doc ‘The Greatest Night in Pop’

Over 60 films are coming into this year’s Sundance Film Festival looking for buyers, but many of the key players on the indie film market already have movies premiering in the festival, with many of those among the most commercial and star-studded movies making their debuts.

Last year’s market was slow, especially for documentaries, but expectations are that sales this year will still be robust for the right movies. Ahead of the festival kicking off next week, we’re tracking everything that already has a home and will update this space throughout Sundance with every sale that comes in.

“The Greatest Night in Pop”

Section: Special Screening
Buyer: Netflix
Director: Bao Nguyen
Release Plans: January 29 on Netflix
Buzz: Announced after the initial Sundance lineup was released and with Netflix unveiling the trailer shortly thereafter, “The Greatest Night in Pop” flashes back to January 25, 1985, when Lionel Richie brought together a group of musicians from around the globe to record “We Are the World.” The film shows how he worked the phones and called in favors to get everyone together for the track. Bao Nguyen, who came to Sundance with the Bruce Lee doc “Be Water,” directs the doc feature playing as part of the Beyond Film programming.

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Pre-Sold Films

A still from A Different Man by Aaron Schimberg, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
“A Different Man”Matt Infante

“A Different Man”

Section: Premieres
Distributor: A24
Director: Aaron Schimberg
Cast: Sebastian Stan, Renate Reinsve, Adam Pierson
Buzz: “The Worst Person in the World” star Renate Reinsve gives her first English-language performance alongside Sebastian Stan in this surrealist psychological thriller about an aspiring actor who undergoes a surgery for a new face, only to lose out on the role of his dreams.

“The American Society of Magical Negroes”

Section: Premieres
Distributor: Focus Features
Director: Kobi Libii
Release: March 22
Cast: Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Drew Tarver, Rupert Friend, Nicole Byer
Buzz: This fantasy satire from actor-turned-director Kobi Libii stars Justice Smith as a young man invited into a secret society of Black people set on making life easier for white folks.

“Frida”

Section: U.S. Documentary
Distributor: Amazon Studios
Director: Carla Gutierrez
Buzz: Imagine Documentaries returns to Sundance with this doc about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, with 2024 marking 70 years since Kahlo passed away. Carla Gutierrez is a first-time director known for her work as an editor on “RBG.”

“Girls State”

Section: Premieres
Distributor: Apple Original Documentaries
Director: Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss
Buzz: “Girls State” is not just the follow-up documentary to “Boys State”; its subjects of aspiring teenage female politicians responds to the differences between their program and the Boys State program, sparking outcry and the desire for change.

“God Save Texas”

Section: Episodic
Distributor: HBO
Director: Richard Linklater, Alex Stapleton, Iliana Sosa
Buzz: HBO is releasing this three-part anthology series of personal, documentary stories all centered around Texas and inspired by Lawrence Wright’s book of the same name. Richard Linklater directs the first episode about his hometown and its place among Texas’ prison system. It will be screened separately from the other two episodes at Sundance.

“Handling the Undead”

Section: World Cinema Dramatic Competition
Distributor: Neon
Director: Thea Hvistendahl
Cast: Renate Reinsve, Bjørn Sundquist, Bente Børsum, Anders Danielsen Lie, Bahar Pars, Inesa Dauksta
Buzz: Neon has assembled this reunion of “The Worst Person in the World” stars Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie in a Gothic horror story based on a book by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

HIT MAN, Glen Powell, 2023. ph: Brian Roedel / © VVS Films / Courtesy Everett Collection
“Hit Man”Courtesy Everett Collection

“Hit Man”

Section: Spotlight
Distributor: Netflix
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Glen Powell, Adria Arjona
Buzz: Richard Linklater’s latest premiered at Venice and was snapped up by Netflix in a $20 million deal. The film is a true crime story based on a Texas Monthly article.

“How to Have Sex”

Section: Spotlight
Distributor: Mubi
Director: Molly Manning Walker
Release: February 2
Cast: Mia McKenna-Bruce, Samuel Bottomley, Shaun Thomas, Lara Peake, Enva Lewis, Laura Ambler
Buzz: A coming-of-age story about three British teen girls at a spring break holiday gone wrong, “How to Have Sex” won the Un Certain Regard at last year’s Cannes.

“I Saw the TV Glow”

Section: Midnight
Distributor: A24
Director: Jane Schoenbrun
Cast: Justice Smith, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Danielle Deadwyler, Phoebe Bridgers, Helena Howard, Fred Durst, Amber Benson, Conner O’Malley
Buzz: The third film from the director of “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” the Midnight movie boasts some serious indie rock cred supporting roles and has Emma Stone as a producer.

“Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza”

Section: Episodic
Distributor: Paramount+
Director: Michael John Warren
Buzz: This musical rock docuseries tells the story of Chicago’s iconic music festival Lollapalooza and how it went from an underground pipe dream from the Jane’s Addiction frontman to one of the biggest festivals in the world.

Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian appear in Love Lies Bleeding by Rose Glass, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
“Love Lies Bleeding”Anna Kooris

“Love Lies Bleeding”

Section: Midnight
Distributor: A24
Director: Rose Glass
Release: March 8
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Katy O’Brian, Ed Harris, Dave Franco, Jena Malone, Anna Baryshnikov
Buzz: Romance, bodybuilding, guns, and ’80s music: Rose Glass’ midnight movie has it all. The film is one of two Kristen Stewart projects at this year’s festival.

“Out of My Mind”

Section: Family Matinee
Distributor: Disney+
Director: Amber Sealey
Cast: Phoebe-Rae Taylor, Rosemarie DeWitt, Luke Kirby, Michael Chernus, Courtney Taylor, Judith Light
Buzz: Newcomer Phoebe-Rae Taylor, who has cerebral palsy, plays the lead in this adaptation of a 2010 novel about a non-verbal girl also with cerebral palsy as she navigates sixth grade.

“Power”

Section: Premieres
Distributor: Netflix
Director: Yance Ford
Buzz: Yance Ford’s return to Sundance after 2017’s prize-winning “Strong Island” is an essay film about policing in America spread out across hundreds of years in its examination of privilege, class, race, and power.

“Sasquatch Sunset”

Section: Premieres
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Director: David Zellner and Nathan Zellner
Release Plans: 2024 theatrical release
Cast: Riley Keough, Jesse Eisenberg, Christophe Zajac-Denek, Nathan Zellner
Buzz: Plot details are still scant for “Sasquatch Sunset,” in which Jesse Eisenberg plays Bigfoot in the latest film from the directors of “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter,” the Zellner Brothers.

“Seeking Mavis Beacon”

Section: NEXT
Distributor: Neon
Director: Jazmin Jones
Buzz: This documentary follows two “e-girl” investigators trying to discover the whereabouts of a Haitian woman who served as the model for the fictional Mavis Beacon typing tutor that became an icon in the ’80s for the adoption of computers. The film goes deep on digital security, AI, and Black representation in the digital age.

“Stress Positions”

Section: U.S. Dramatic
Distributor: Neon
Director: Theda Hammel
Cast: John Early, Qaher Harhash, Theda Hammel, Rebecca F. Wright, Amy Zimmer, Faheem Ali, Davidson Obennebo, John Roberts
Buzz: Theda Hammel wrote, directed, co-stars, edited, and even composed original music for what is her debut feature after coming to Sundance in 2022 for her short “My Trip to Spain.” The film stars that short’s star John Early in a comedy about a man trying to keep a 19-year-old Moroccan model under quarantine from the public.

“Suncoast”

Section: U.S. Dramatic
Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Director: Laura Chinn
Cast: Nico Parker, Laura Linney, Woody Harrelson
Buzz: First-time director Laura Chinn’s debut is a semi-autobiographical account of a teenager who befriends an activist protesting a landmark medical case, all while caring for her brother suffering from an illness.

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