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Sundance: National Geographic Documentary Films Prevails in Bidding War to Buy ‘Fire of Love’

Fire of Love Sundance
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

National Geographic Documentary Films has won out in a fierce bidding war for the rights to “Fire of Love,” a documentary and love story about two French scientists who died tracking the volcanoes that were their greatest passion. It’s the first big pact of this year’s virtual Sundance, a festival that has been rather slow-going in terms of dealmaking.

Netflix, Amazon, Sony Pictures Classics, Paramount and several other players were in the hunt for the film at various points. Financial terms of the deal, which was for worldwide rights, were not publicly disclosed but it is in the mid seven-figure range, according to knowledgable insiders. Reviewers flipped for the film, which drove up its price, with Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman hailing it as “moving and amazing” and “a spellbinding experience.”

“Fire of Love” is directed by Sara Dosa (“The Seer and the Unseen”) and narrated by “Kajillionaire” filmmaker Miranda July. The film centers on volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who sought to understand the magic of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. That obsession ended after they died in 1991 in a pyroclastic flow on Japan’s Mount Unzen. To make the film, the creative team has been given unprecedented access to the more than 200 hours of footage that the couple shot over the course of 20 years. The film is a Sandbox Films, Intuitive Pictures and Cottage M co-production.

National Geographic Documentary Films will release “Fire of Love” theatrically later this year. The company has recently made a splash in the documentary space, releasing the Oscar-winning “Free Solo” and this year’s “The Rescue,” which should be in the awards hunt. On Sunday, National Geographic also announced that it had bought “The Territory,” a timely look at indigenous-led land defense in the Amazon rainforest, following its premiere at Sundance.

“We are absolutely honored to begin our journey with National Geographic Documentary Films,” said Dosa. “They champion cinematic storytelling about the wonders and power of the natural world, so there is truly no better fit for our ode to love and volcanoes. We are thrilled to take this next step with them to bring the awe-inspiring story of the Kraffts to audiences worldwide.”

Submarine brokered the deal with National Geographic. Deadline first broke news of the sale.