The 2019 Sundance Film Festival helped the documentary "Knock Down the House" knock down a record.
The documentary made a splash at the festival and won the Festival Favorite Award, leading to a bidding war. Netflix ultimately won, per reports last week, and now the sale price has been revealed. It's note-worthy: The streamer paid $10 million for worldwide rights, according to Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr., who says the dollar amount is a record for a film festival documentary sale.
For comparison, other documentary deals that came out of Sundance included NatGeo's $3 million purchase of "Sea Shadows," produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Hulu's $2 million deal for "The Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary." Meanwhile, Fleming reports that the Russian doping-centric documentary "Icarus" is likely the previous record-holder, and it sold for $5 million -- half of what "Knock Down the House" did.
Netflix has a history of prioritizing documentaries. In 2015, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told the International Documentary Association that the genre was "distribution challenged" and that the streamer got into it after seeing that "there's still a hungry audience."
"I do think that we've been able to make documentary films accessible in a way that has brought real mainstream audiences to documentary films that otherwise couldn't have happened," Sarandos added.
Netflix clearly expects big things from its new purchase. Directed by Rachel Lears, "Knock Down the House" centers on four women -- Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin -- as they ran for office during the November midterm election's primaries. The documentary "captures these four women's unlikely journey to inspire Americans to get fired up about the new faces of politics," according to the description on the Sundance website.
Netflix has not yet announced a release date for the documentary.