By most accounts, this year’s Sundance was a particularly low-key affair. Perhaps the fate of Patti Cake$, which Fox Searchlight Pictures bought out of the festival last year for $9.5 million and made $1.5 at the box office, served as a kind of cautionary tale. For one, both Amazon and Netflix, who led the pack last year in terms of purchases, walked away from this year’s festival without buying a single film. This probably came as a relief to many a competitor, but maybe it was also a sign that, at least on paper, there weren’t very many films at the festival whose box-office potential seemed promising.
One thing that almost everyone at Sundance could agree on was that Hereditary is a sensation. A24 purchased the film, which stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, and Gabriel Byrne, ahead of the festival, and judging by its first trailer, a conscious effort is being made to position Ari Aster’s feature-length directorial debut as less miminalist in the horror department than both The Witch and It Comes at Night.