×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance: Netflix Lands Russian Doping Documentary ‘Icarus’ (EXCLUSIVE)

In an historic deal for a documentary, Netflix has landed “Icarus,” a buzzy examination of the Russian doping scandal, Variety has learned. The $5 million pact is one of the biggest ever for a non-fiction film.

Bidding for the film was intense from almost the moment it premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. There were several interested studios circling the project at various points, including Sony Pictures Classics, Neon, Magnolia, and Amazon.

The film contained a killer pitch, and was described by its PR team as a movie that kicks off in the mold of Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”), but ends up in the tradition of Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”). To investigate doping in sports, director Bryan Fogel, an amateur bike racer, decided to dope himself to see if it would strengthen his endurance. To do so, he connected with a renegade Russian scientist, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. Through the doctor, Fogel was able to blow the lid off Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping program. With reports of Russian meddling in the U.S. election dominating the news, “Icarus” could not be more topical.

“This has been an intense 3.5-year personal journey that exposed the biggest scandal in sports history,” Fogel said in a statement. “To be able to work with Netflix, a company that is able to launch this story globally in such a big way, with such potential for social and political impact, is a spectacular honor.”

It’s been a particularly busy festival for Netflix. The streaming leviathan arrived at Sundance with eight completed projects in tow and has been a force on the acquisitions front. “Icarus” marks the fifth non-fiction pickup for Netflix so far. The company also bought “Chasing Coral,” a look at global warming, and “Don’t Speak,” an inside look at Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker.

Netflix will give the film an awards push and will release it simultaneously on its streaming service across 190 countries. Impact Partners backed the film. The company is a major presence at this year’s festival, with five releases, including “Trophy,” which sold to The Orchard and CNN, and “Step” to its credit.

Fogel co-wrote the film with Mark Monroe and Timothy Rode, and produced it with Dan Cogan, David Fialkow and Jim Swartz.

UTA Independent Film Group negotiated the deal.

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content