• Company wants exclusives to distinguish programs from rivals
  • Streaming service would partner with theatrical distributor

Hulu LLC expressed interest in acquiring films screened at the Sundance Film Festival, striving to join streaming rivals Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. as a buyer and distributor of original movies for the first time, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The company, jointly owned by 21st Century Fox Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., hasn’t announced any acquisitions yet from the festival, which ended Sunday. If Hulu does make any purchases, it would probably work with a traditional distributor to release the movies in theaters as well as online, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

Film has become a bigger priority for Hulu, which wants to expand its catalog of exclusive programming to lure new viewers to its service. While the company already offers older movies licensed from studios, acquiring pictures directly from producers and filmmakers would mark a new step. 

Alexandra Finegersh, a Hulu spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Hulu said last week it acquired exclusive streaming rights to future documentaries from IFC Films once they leave theaters. The company had 9 million paying subscribers as of April 2015.

Amazon also works with traditional theatrical distributors. Amazon and Netflix, two of Hulu’s principal rivals, have acquired the rights to almost a dozen films between them over the past couple weeks.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE