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Toronto: Amazon Nabs ‘Sound of Metal’ With Riz Ahmed

Amazon has acquired “Sound of Metal,” Variety has learned.

The drama looks at a heavy metal drummer who is beginning to go deaf, and features a bravura performance from Riz Ahmed. It marks the feature film directing debut of Darius Marder, who also penned the script. Olivia Cooke co-stars. Reviews were strong after the film premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Many viewers noted the visceral use of sound design to illustrate the experience of a musician losing his hearing.

IndieWire’s Eric Kohn called the film “mesmerizing” and added “Ahmed’s brilliant performance coasts on a complex soundscape that resonates even in total silence.” Ahmed learned to play the drums and picked up American Sign Language to play the role.

“One of the most beautiful things about being an actor is learning new skills. It’s such a unique gift, and this film was fully transformative,” Ahmed told Variety.

The pact is for U.S. rights and includes a theatrical release. Amazon has endured a rough period at the box office. The summer it released “Late Night,” a Mindy Kaling comedy that it picked up at Sundance, but failed to generate much in the way of ticket sales. Other recent flops include “Peterloo,” “Beautiful Boy,” and “Life Itself.” The studio did score a best foreign language film and best director Oscar nomination for 2018’s “Cold War” and the jury is still out on “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” another Sundance acquisition that is still in limited release. Upcoming features include the Adam Driver thriller “The Report” and the Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones adventure film “The Aeronauts,” which earned strong reviews at Toronto.

Other studios were interested in the movie, including Neon. Protagonist Pictures is selling international rights.

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