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A day after Fair Play sold to Netflix in a Sundance deal pegged in the $20 million range, another $20 million deal has come together at the annual film festival. Apple has picked up the worldwide rights to Flora and Son, John Carney’s musical ode to motherhood that features a breakthrough performance by Eve Hewson. Multiple sources say the deal landed at just over $20 million. (Although one source says it comes in at just under $20 million.)
The feel-good charmer, steeped in Irish humor and flavor, premiered Sunday in front of an audience that was laughing, cheering and wiping away tears, all culminating with a standing ovation. Hewson anchors Flora, playing a single mother juggling work and a challenging co-parenting relationship with her ex. In the Dublin-set feature about how music can re-energize life, she connects with her troubled teenaged son (Orén Kinlan) through a discarded guitar and also forms a bond with her online music teacher, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
The Hollywood Reporter review called the film “an easygoing delight.”
Carney produced Flora, along with Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Rebecca O’Flanagan and Robert Walpole. The film is executive produced by Cathleen Dore, Milan Popelka and Alison Cohen.
Details of the deal were not immediately available, but the reaction from buyers was immediate. Carney and his sales agents huddled at the WME’s swank lounge on Main Street for a private post-premiere party when the initial overtures began to be made. WME Independent and FilmNation handled the deal along with Fifth Season, the company formerly known as Endeavor Content.
With the acquisition, Apple gets to keep Hewson in the company fold. The streamer is behind Bad Sisters, a black comedy starring the actress that debuted in fall 2022 to strong reviews. The tech giant is also in business with Gordon-Levitt, who starred in the streamer’s series Mr. Corman.
The movie is Carney’s first since his 2016 sensation Sing Street, which also premiered at Sundance. And just like Street, it too features original songs by Carney and his frequent collaborator, composer Gary Clark. Carney has become somewhat of a master of the musical drama after breaking out with Once, the low-budget 2007 film that earned $23.3 million globally and won an Oscar for the song “Falling Slowly.”
The Flora sale follows Monday’s deal for dramatic thriller Fair Play, and Searchlight picking up mockumentary Theater Camp in the $8 million range. This deal marks the third Sundance in a row where Apple has landed one of the fest’s top acquisitions. The streamer landed CODA for $25 million in 2021 and Cha Cha Real Smooth for $15 million in 2022.
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