Sundance: Apple, A24 Nab Hot Doc 'Boys State' for Record-Breaking $12M (Exclusive)

Boys State - Sundance - U.S. DOCU - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Sundance

Directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, the film rode into the fest with the buzz of being this year's 'American Factory.'

Apple and A24 have acquired worldwide rights to the documentary Boys State, a political coming-of-age story which examines the health of American democracy. A source pegged the deal at $12 million, which marks the largest sale for a documentary ever at a festival. A24 will release the film theatrically.

The previous record for the largest documentary sale at Sundance was 2019's Knock Down the House, which sold for $10 million. Sources say Netflix and Hulu were also bidding at $12 million.

Directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, the film rode into the Sundance Film Festival with the buzz of being this year's American Factory. Boys State chronicles an unusual experiment: 1,000 17-year-old boys from across the state of Texas gather together to build a representative government from the ground up. High-minded ideals collide with low-down dirty tricks as four boys of diverse backgrounds and political views navigate the challenges of organizing political parties, shaping consensus and campaigning for the highest office at Texas Boys State — governor.

Boys State made its world premiere on Friday at the Library Center Theatre in Park City to sustained standing ovations and drew strong reviews. It is screening in the Sundance fest’s U.S. Documentary Competition.

Concordia Studio's Laurene Powell Jobs, Davis Guggenheim, Jonathan Silberberg and Nicole Stott served as executive producers on the pic. The deal marks the first for the newly announced company.

Submarine negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers. It also handled the deal for last year's American Factory, the first film from Barack and Michelle Obama's production company Higher Ground Productions that landed at Netflix and eventually scored an Oscar nomination.

“It’s been an incredible experience watching audiences fall in love with Boys State at Sundance," Moss and McBaine said Monday in a statement. "Along with Concordia Studio, we are thrilled to partner with two incredible companies, Apple and A24, that will help bring Boys State to audiences all over the world.”

The pic joins Apple’s original feature film slate, which includes two other efforts from the company’s partnership with A24: Sofia Coppola's On the Rocks and Josephine Decker's The Sky Is Everywhere. Boys State is a Concordia Studio Presentation of a Mile End Films Production.

Jan. 27, 9:55 p.m. Updated to reflect the final price, $12 million.