Netflix has risen to the top of the pile when it comes to festival season acquisitions, the streaming giant cleaning up at this year’s Sundance, and poised to do the same at TIFF after causing Cannes to go into a tizzy. One of the funniest and most rave-reviewed films out of Sundance this year was Jack Black’s The Polka King, which starred Black as real-life Pennsylvania polka legend Jan Lewan, and Netflix has just snatched it up.
“Sometimes,” says self-made musical impresario Jan Lewan (Jack Black) in The Polka King, “to make money you have to spend money.” The problem with Jan is he didn’t spend money sometimes, he did it every time. Every get-rich quick scheme he ever hatched up in his Pennsylvania gift shop required more investment than potential profit. He sold his polka fans on a “premium Pope package,” a lavish vacation to Rome that included a private audience with the Pope. But Jan had no way to deliver on his promise, so he just showed up at the Vatican with a briefcase full of cash. He got his audience, and delighted his tour group. But his “premium” vacation surely cost him more than he made.