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Sundance: Sony Pictures Classics Nabs Religious Drama ‘Novitiate’

Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed worldwide rights to “Novitiate,” a religious drama that is set against the backdrop of Vatican II. The pact is in the mid-seven figure range.

For readers who didn’t grow up taking communion, Vatican II was a council that introduced a series of reforms meant to modernize the Catholic Church. It remains controversial.

Novitiate” marks the narrative feature directorial debut of Maggie Betts. Melissa Leo stars as a mother superior with Margaret Qualley as a young woman who is called to a life in the seminary. Reviews for the film have been strong. Variety critic Guy Lodge praised “Novitiate” as an “…intelligent, ambiguous nunnery drama.” Leo’s performance has been singled out for particular praise.

Before the festival had even started, Sony Pictures Classics picked up rights to “Call Me By Your Name,” a gay love story with Armie Hammer. It premieres Sunday.

There’s been a lot of grousing from buyers that the films that are debuting at this year’s festival are almost aggressively uncommercial, but that hasn’t stopped there from being a steady stream of sales. Variety broke the news that Amazon had landed “The Big Sick,” a romantic comedy from Kumail Nanjiani in a massive $12 million pact. “Mudbound,” a drama about the segregated South, premiered to a rousing standing ovation on Saturday and should score a sizable distribution deal.

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CAA brokered the deal for “Novitiate.”

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