The 2019 Sundance Film Festival may be complete, but the acquisitions aren’t yet over. One of the hottest sales titles was surely Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which stars Zac Efron as Ted Bundy. The film premiered to fairly positive reviews, although some critics had their reservations about the value of such a story being told. Now THR reports that Netflix is in talks to acquire the U.S. rights and some international rights to distribute the film for an impressive $9 million, beating out competitors like Lionsgate and STXfilms.
While that number is less than what Amazon paid for crowdpleasers Late Night and Brittany Runs a Marathon at Sundance, it’s still a fairly high figure as far as Sundance acquisitions go. And Netflix is a sensible fit for Extremely Wicked, which hails from director Joe Berlinger, who also helmed the just-released Netflix Ted Bundy documentary The Ted Bundy Tapes. So now the streaming service can present both a fictional chronicle of the serial killer’s reign of terror, as well as a more comprehensive documentary detailing his crimes.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile takes the unique track of telling the Ted Bundy story from the point of view of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, played in the film by Lily Collins. Instead of sensationalizing Bundy’s crimes, the fictional account aims to show how one could feel duped by a loved one, and why reconciling the reported crimes with the man that Liz knew and loved was so difficult.
Indeed, the film doesn’t show Bundy committing the crimes. Instead we hear about his awful deeds the way Liz did, and by the same token we also hear Ted’s seemingly sincere pleas of innocence. The film aims to reconcile why it took so long for Liz to admit Ted’s guilt, and in doing so provides a unique perspective on the notorious serial killer. Efron is pitch-perfect in the role, and while the film falls a bit short of impactfully sticking its landing, it remains an engrossing watch. And paired with The Ted Bundy Tapes, it offers a more complete picture of Bundy’s crimes.
No release date has yet been set since the deal isn’t yet closed, but THR says Netflix intends to give Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile an awards season run this fall. Could we be looking at Zac Efron, Oscar nominee this time next year?
Click here to read my full review of the film from Sundance. You can also watch Steve’s Sundance interview with Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Haley Joel Osment, Angela Sarafyan and director Joe Berlinger by clicking here.