Netflix has acquired distribution rights to the Sundance documentary Icarus for $5 million, being one of the largest deals for a non-fiction picture, according to Variety. The streaming service beat out the likes of Sony Pictures Classics, Neon, Magnolia Pictures, and Amazon.
The film’s premise is undeniably captivating. Director Bryan Fogel, an amateur bike racer, investigates doping in sports by trying it out himself. He meets with Russian scientist Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, and through his instruction, Fogel uncovers and exposes the Russian Olympic doping scandal. Given the flooding of Russia in recent news, particularly with their involvement in the recent U.S. Presidential election, this film has hit timeliness on the nose. It is being described as a stylistic mix between Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Laura Poitras (Citizenfour). According to Fogel in a statement:
This has been an intense 3.5-year personal journey that exposed the biggest scandal in sports history. 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.
Netflix has also picked up the documentaries Chasing Coral and the Hulk Hogan Gawker lawsuit film Don’t Speak as well as the narrative film The Incredible Jessica James. Netflix is looking to give Icarus and awards push later this year.