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Netflix Spending Spree Highlights Dimly Lit Toronto Film Fest

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix’s eight-figure shopping spree was the highlight of a virtual 2020 Toronto Film Festival last week that by most accounts lacked the pizzaz and energy that usually marks an event known for annually kicking off the motion picture business’ glitzy awards season. 

According to numerous published reports, the streaming service paid $30 million for Malcolm & Marie, a relationship drama directed by Sam Levin (HBO’s Euphoria) and starring the fast-rising John David Washington (Tenet) and the one-named talent Zendaya (the youngest Emmy-winning actor ever at 24 for her work in Euphoria). 

Netflix also paid a reported $20 million for Halle Berry’s directorial debut, MMA-themed film Bruised. And it ponied up an undisclosed sum for drama Pieces of a Woman starring Shia LaBeouf and Vanessa Kirby (The Crown).

Overall, business at the event was reportedly light. Glitzy screenings, which usually surpass 300, were limited to about 50, all virtualized, with attendees accessing them remotely via password.

Outside of Netflix's little spree, sales were light, too.

"It was more a friendly check-in than a formal sales market,” one industry source told The Hollywood Reporter. “Most people are holding back stuff they will bring to AFM or Berlin.”