Apple has landed worldwide rights to “CODA” for a tad above $25 million, in the first big deal of the 2021 virtual Sundance Film Festival, setting a new Sundance acquisition record — above the $22.5 million that “Palm Springs” snagged last year from Hulu/Neon. The title’s acronym stands for “Child of Deaf Adults.”
It came down to a pitched battle between Apple and Amazon.
Writer-director Siân Heder’s coming-of-age drama is about a high school senior who is the only hearing person in her deaf family and is torn between holding together that unit or seeking her own dreams. The film premiered opening night in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Buyers loved it, and it became clear yesterday that its value to distributors was heading into the stratosphere, after receiving glowing reviews and reaction from buyers.
Deal was led for Apple by heads of Worldwide Video Zack Van Amburg & Jamie Erlicht, who last year reeled in the Sundance docu Boys State, which is in the Oscar race right now. It becomes the latest statement-making deal for Apple, which at last virtual Cannes broke the record there for the Antoine Fuqua-Will Smith runaway slave drama Emancipation in a record pre-buy.
Said writer/director Heder: “I have been so moved by the outpouring of response to the film and am so excited to have found a partner in Apple that loves and deeply gets this movie, the spirit in which it was created and is committed to having this film reach the widest audience possible in a thoughtful and meaningful way. The whole CODA team is also so grateful to Sundance for being a part of the film’s journey. I hope that this film and Apple’s powerful support will help kick down some doors standing in the way of inclusion and representation and pave a path for more stories that center characters from the Deaf and Disabled community. The world has waited too long for these stories to be told. Now is the time. No more excuses.”
MacDailyNews Take: We love it when a plan comes together. Apple TV+ is quickly becoming synonymous with “quality,” just as Apple wants.