Sundance: Laura Dern Drama 'The Tale' Nabbed by HBO Films for $7M

The timely thriller centers on a woman who is forced to reexamine her first sexual relationship and the stories women tell themselves in order to survive.

HBO Films has acquired worldwide rights to the timely drama The Tale, starring Laura Dern.

Dern plays a journalist and professor who rediscovers a story she wrote at age 13 that depicted a "special" relationship with two adult coaches. She then forces herself to reexamine her first sexual relationship by seeking them out, while also exploring the stories women tell themselves in order to survive.

A source pegged the deal at $7 million, which makes the film one of the biggest price tags of the festival (only Neon/AGBO's Assassination Nation eclipsed that, at just north of $10 million). It was an interesting move for HBO, which almost never picks up a finished narrative feature, opting for homegrown fare (HBO does acquire finished documentaries).

Elizabeth Debicki, Common and Jason Ritter also star in the film, based on writer-director Jennifer Fox's real-life experience. 

Fox, Oren Moverman, Lawrence Inglee, Laura Rister, Mynette Louie, Sol Bondy, Simone Pero, Regina K. Scully and Lynda Weinman produced the feature, which made its world premiere in the U.S. Drama section of the Sundance Film Festival.

“It has always been my intent to find an engaged distribution partner who deeply understands the wide reach of the project, not just as a film but also for the impact it can have on a larger global conversation,” said Fox in a statement.  “In a world in which stories like mine have often been pushed into the darkness, no one has been better at shining a light on storytelling and important social issues than HBO.”

After its debut, The Tale was heralded as one of the most affecting features to come out of the 2018 fest, with The Hollywood Reporter's Leslie Felperin writing that the film is "thought-provoking and thoroughly compelling."

ICM Partners negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.