Netflix and Amazon Aren’t Buying Documentaries, But the Non-Fiction Market Is Booming Anyway

Documentaries are hotter than ever, but their production and distribution is in constant flux.

In 2017, major companies were shelling out huge dollars to acquire documentaries, dramatically shifting the scales for the budgets and value of nonfiction.

Then everything changed at Sundance 2018, when contrary to expectations, Netflix and Amazon deescalated the marketplace they had super-sized a year before.At the Park City festival, Netflix acquired a single doc, “Shirkers”; Amazon hasn’t acquired a completed documentary since Matthew Heineman’s “City of Ghosts” from 2017.

“It’s like night and day,” said one documentary producer.

While Amazon’s strategy remains unclear, Netflix has refocused its resources on producing documentaries in-house.Both companies declined to comment for this article.

But it’s clear that their recent absence from the market has had impact — deals have taken longer to close and the price-tags have been reduced.“We’re having to educate producers and financiers

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