While the Sundance Film Festival prizes were awarded yesterday, they’ve saved the biggest sale for last. Netflix has paid $12.5 million for Mudbound, the Dee Rees-directed drama that stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Garrett Hedlund, and Jonathan Banks. The deal closing is for U.S. rights and select other territories, after Good Universe sold other territories around the world. That exceeds slightly the $12 million that Amazon paid for U.S. and other rights to the Michael Showalter-directed The Big Sick. The film was financed by MACRO, Zeal, and Black Bear. The film is produced by Sally Jo Effenson, Cassian Elwes, and Carl Effenson, MACRO’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth, Chris Lemole, and Tim Zajaros. The exec producers include Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman and Daniel Steinman, Kyle Tekiela, Rees, Poppy Hanks, Kyle Tekiela, David Gendron, Ali Jazayeri, and Virgil Williams.
WME Global is brokering the deal with Elwes and King. The pact includes a simultaneous limited theatrical push for awards season for the acting performances. The film premiered January 21 at Eccles to rave reviews and the auction took all week. Several suitors competed, including Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios, an underbidder last year for The Birth of A Nation.
Rees returned to Park City after making her splashy debut with the 2011 drama Pariah. Here, she got much more ambitious in scope and sale. She and Virgil Williams adapted the Hillary Jordan novel set in post– World War II South. Two families are pitted against a barbaric social hierarchy and an unrelenting landscape as they simultaneously fight the battle at home and the battle abroad. The pioneer story touches on themes of friendship, heritage and the unending struggle for and against the land.