In a record-setting deal, Apple Studios has acquired the rights to the Sundance sensation ‘Coda’, an indie film about a young hearing girl struggling to break away from her deaf family.
Apple Original Films paid a hefty $25 million for the movie’s global rights during a bidding war after the acclaimed film debuted on Jan. 28 in the virtual festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition section. Apple Studios is now said to be buying out pre-sold international territories that helped finance production. CAA Media Finance, ICM and Pathe Films were responsible for brokering the deal.
Written and directed by Sian Heder (who directed 2016’s Tallulah), CODA stars Emilia Jones as a hearing child in a tight-knit deaf family who finds herself torn between her family’s reliance on her as a connection to the outside world and her own chance to pursue her love of music. “CODA” is an acronym for “Child of Deaf Adults.”
Veteran actress Marlee Matlin costars along with Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Amy Forsyth and Kevin Chapman.
Vendome Pictures and Pathe Films served as production houses.
“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 …” said Heder. “I hope 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 deaf and disabled community. The world has waited too long for these stories to be told. Now is the time. No more excuses.”
The recent purchase breaks last year’s record at Sundance when the film Palm Springs sold to Hulu for more than $22 million.
Besides CODA, this year’s festival line-up has included several film titles with disability as part of its content. Those include 2019 films Moonlight Sonata and Bedlam and 2020’s The Reason I Jump. Content incorporating disabilities into plotlines include the short film, 4 Feet High and Forever.
For Apple Studios, CODA joins a growing slate of recently announced films including the Will Smith starrer Emancipation from director Antoine Fuqua and Kitbag from director Ridley Scott.