Amazon writes Sundance’s first big check, for Mindy Kaling movie

Mindy Kaling wrote and stars in Late Night, directed by Nisha Ganatra

Emily Aragones

In the first major sale of the Sundance Film Festival, Amazon’s Hollywood arm has won the rights to stream (and likely screen) Mindy Kaling’s comedy Late Night in the US. 

At a reported $13 million, it’s not quite the biggest Sundance deal ever. In 2016, the studio Fox Searchlight agreed to a record high $17.5 million for the rights to slave rebellion drama The Birth of a Nation (which flopped). But it tops Amazon’s own $12 million deal for The Big Sick that same year, and Netflix’s $12.5 million agreement for Mudbound last year. 

For more than three decades, the movie industry has come to Park City, Utah, to tromp from one snowy-covered cinema to another, hunting for independent film’s shiniest gems. Thanks to online video companies’ swelling budgets, companies like Netflix and Amazon have become some of the festival’s most aggressive bidders in recent years, hoping to scoop up next year’s Oscars catnip or a prestige-building hit.

Late Night, which stars Kaling as a young comedy writer hired to diversify the all-male writer’s room of a late-night talk show, also stars Emma Thompson and John Lithgow. Kaling wrote and produced the film, which Nisha Ganatra directed. 

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