Netflix shelled out an eye-popping $10 million for rights to a documentary about young upstarts running for Congress starring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Deadline first reported the amount the streaming giant paid for “Knock Down the House,” a film that followed four women vying for office during the 2018 election cycle.
The website said it was the largest sum ever brokered at a film festival for a documentary. Of the four contenders, only Ocasio-Cortez won.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival late last month. Ocasio-Cortez was headed to the premiere, but pulled out a day before her planned appearance, citing “complications from the government shutdown.” The shutdown had ended the day before.
She instead appeared via video at the screening. Since then “Knock Down the House” has won Sundance’s Festival Favorite Award. The documentary raised money via a Kickstarter campaign last year and it grabbed the Festival Favorite Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, beating 121 other contenders to land the highest number of audience votes.
That acclaim and the rising star of Ocasio-Cortez looks to have made the picture a hot commodity. Deadline reports that Netflix is spending $10 million to secure the film, a price that — if true — would make it the most expensive Sundance documentary deal to date. It apparently beat off competition from NEON, Focus, Hulu, and Amazon to land the production, according to Deadline.
‘Knock Down the House’ is produced by New York’s Jubilee Films and it profiles the campaigns of Las Vegas businesswoman Amy Vilela, Saint Louis nurse Cori Bush, coal miner’s daughter Paula Jean Swearengin in West Virginia and New York-based Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who worked double shifts at restaurants to pay her family’s bills.
None of the women had previous political experience, but they gained attention after taking on heavyweight incumbents because they believed that the American system needed to change. Of the challengers, only Ocasio-Cortez won the vote and made it to Washington.
“It is a transcendent moment when skilled filmmakers are able to train their lens on a major transformation,” Lisa Nishimura, VP of Original Documentaries for Netflix, said in a statement. “With intimacy and immediacy, [filmmakers] Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnik, bring viewers to the front lines of a movement, as four women find their voice, their power, and their purpose, allowing all of us to witness the promise of true democracy in action.”
This is not Netflix’s first major foray into U.S. political programming. The company signed up former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in a production deal announced last year, although the exact content that’ll come from that collaboration is not clear at this point.