Marking the first major U.S. acquisition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Sony Pictures Classics has bought domestic rights to writer-director Damien Chazelle’s opening night film “Whiplash,” Variety has confirmed.
“Whiplash,” which stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, received high praise, including from this publication, after premiering Thursday night, sparking interest among most of the major buyers. And while Teller has gotten serious buzz for his performance as an aspiring college musician under the tutelage of an abusive instructor (played by Simmons, who also has people talking), neither actor is a big enough name yet to have created a major bidding war among buyers, sources say.
The deal is reported to have been made for around $3 million, however.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group nabbed much of the international rights to “Whiplash” before it premiered in Sundance.
“Whiplash” is adapted from Chazelle’s short film that won Sundance’s jury award for fiction last year. Producers are Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, Michel Litvak, Nicholas Britell and David Lancaster; Jason Reitman, Gary Michael Walters and Couper Samuelson exec produced.
Variety film critic Peter Debruge called “Whiplash” a “stellar career-starter” for Chazelle, who “proves an exceptional builder of scenes, crafting loaded, need-to-succeed moments that grab our attention and hold it tight.”