Sian Heder’s “CODA” has sold to Apple for up to $25 million after an intense bidding war ended in a Sundance record-setting deal, an individual with knowledge of the deal told TheWrap.
The deal knocked down the $17.5 million that “Palm Springs” went for last year to Hulu and Neon to No. 2 as the highest sale from a film from the Sundance Film Festival.
In her follow-up to “Tallulah,” Heder directed the drama about a teen girl (Emilia Jones), who is the only hearing person in her deaf family and is stuck keeping their family fishing business afloat. But when she’s drawn to her school’s choir club, she’s encouraged by her teacher (Eugenio Derbez) to pursue a career in music. The film that premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition on Thursday was an instant crowd-pleaser and earned strong reviews for its deaf representation on screen.
“CODA” also stars Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Amy Forsyth, Kevin Chapman and Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin. Heder also wrote the screenplay.
“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. “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.”
“CODA” is produced by Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi, Patrick Wachsberger and Jerome Seydoux. The executive producers are Ardavan Safaee and Sarah Borch-Jacobsen, and the film is a production of Vendome Pictures and Pathé Film.
On Friday Neon paid seven figures for the animated documentary “Flee,” but the sale of “CODA” is the largest such deal in the festival’s history and sets the pace for what was expected to be a robust market despite the festival’s virtual format.
Apple has been aggressive with acquisitions of late, including new films by Antoine Fuqua, Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese. It just released “Palmer” with Justin Timberlake and will next release “Cherry” starring Tom Holland and directed by the Russo Brothers.
ICM Partners and CAA Media Finance negotiated the deal.
Deadline first reported the news.