In a record-setting purchase, Apple Studios has emerged as the winner of “CODA,” the virtual Sundance sensation about a young hearing girl who grapples with breaking away from her deaf family.
The Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht-led studio paid close to $25 million for the film, breaking last year’s recording setting “Palm Springs” sale at north of $22 million.
As Variety previously reported, rapturous audience response and glowing reviews powered the 2021 Sundance Day One premiere to a bidding war, which included interest from Netflix and Amazon. The latter was said to be keen on the upbeat tearjerker, Variety reported, but did not have the bandwidth to release the film in 2021 with their loaded slate.
Apple acquired worldwide rights on the project, and is said to be in the process of buying out pre-sold international territories that helped finance production.
CAA Media Finance, ICM and Pathe Films brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers, including writer-director Siân Heder (of the previous Sundance player “Tallulah”). The massive sale should quells any fears about the viability of Sundance as a sales market, despite the global pandemic.
“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,” Heder said in a statement to Variety. “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.”
Breakout lead Emilia Jones plays Ruby, the daughter of a charismatic and tight-knit deaf family on the coast of Massachusetts. Fishermen by birth for generations, Ruby is crucial to the daily lives of her clan as the only hearing person in the house. Her dream of singing leads to a scholarship opportunity that forces a life-changing choice.
Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Amy Forsyth, Kevin Chapman, and Marlee Matlin costar. Vendome Pictures and Pathe Films served as production houses. Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi, Patrick Wachsberger, and Jérôme Seydoux served as producers. Ardavan Safaee and Sarah Borch-Jacobsen were executive producers.
Deadline Hollywood was the first to report the news.