The coming-of-age drama, CODA, sold for $25 million to Apple this weekend. There was an intense bidding war, with Apple coming out on top. The sale price shatters the previous record, set by Palm Springs last year, of $17 million and 69 cents.
People were worried that a virtual Sundance would lead to a sluggish performance from buyers, but that has not been the case. The movie was written and directed by Sian Heder, who was previously working in TV on Orange Is The New Black.
In the film, Emilia Jones stars as the teenage child of deaf parents (Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur) caught between her love of singing and the expectations she faces as the only hearing person in her family, who runs a fishing business.
Eugenio Derbez appears in 'CODA' by Siân Heder, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.Credit: Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Mark HillAfter the sale, Heder talked about the experience, saying, “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. The whole CODA team is also so grateful to Sundance for being a part of the film’s journey.”
She continued, “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.”
Streamers made a big statement again this year. They can hang with any studio and make offers that can blow others out of the water. Palm Springs was a huge hit for Hulu.
While we don't know how CODA will be received, the buzz from the festival is that this is an emotional and touching journey that's poised to break out.