Amazon is following in Netflix's footsteps by making its first Sundance purchase before the festival has a chance to start. The budding film distributor (and international commerce giant) bought the American rights to Complete Unknown, a romantic drama starring Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon, on Tuesday afternoon. It's not scheduled to premiere at Sundance until January 25th, meaning Amazon is picking it up almost a week before the world has a chance to see it.
Spike Lee's Chi-Raq became Amazon's first original movie late last year, and the company has since added Jim Jarmusch's Paterson (starring Adam Drive) to its slate. It's unclear exactly where Complete Unknown fits into Amazon's release schedule or how its international release will be handled, but The Hollywood Reporter notes that Amazon is hoping to find a partner for a fall theatrical release in the US. Chi-Raq has been made available to Amazon Prime subscribers ahead of schedule, and it's safe to say Complete Unknown will enjoy the same treatment upon its digital release.
Netflix and Amazon are already making an impact at Sundance this year
Sundance hasn't even started yet, but it's clear Netflix and Amazon are going to enjoy a much more successful festival than they did last year. Both companies vied for popular pictures (like eventual Oscar nominee Brooklyn) last year, only to lose out because of timing or concerns over theatrical release plans. Now that each service's film programs are active and stuffed with recognizable names and faces, they're having an easier time convincing Sundance filmmakers to take their money and give their trust.