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Netflix buys its first Sundance movie a week before the festival starts

Netflix buys its first Sundance movie a week before the festival starts

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The 2016 Sundance Film Festival doesn't actually kick off until next week, but that hasn't stopped Netflix from already swooping in and making its first acquisition. Variety reports that the company has purchased worldwide streaming rights for Tallulah, a film starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney that's scheduled to premiere in the festival's US Dramatic Competition category. Page plays a young homeless women who abducts a child from a negligent mother, and then takes the child to her own mother, played by Janney, who thinks the child is her granddaughter.

While it may seem awfully early for Netflix to pick up the dramatic comedy, the company has a bit of a leg up: Tallulah is written and directed by Sian Heder, a writer and producer on Orange Is the New Black. Along with Page and Janney, the movie also features Orange star Uzo Aduba, Zachary Quinto, and Tammy Blanchard.

Theatrical rights are still up for grabs

While Netflix has been largely picking up films for both online and theatrical distribution, according to Variety the theatrical rights for Tallulah are still up for grabs. While that may seem like a tiny detail, depending on how the rest of the festival acquisitions play out it could be a sign of a change in strategy for Netflix, which over the past year was either opting for films that would be released online and in theaters simultaneously — which limited how wide a release they could get — or foregoing theatrical releases at all, as the company is doing with its slate of new Adam Sandler movies.