Click here to read the full article.
The record-breaking Apple Studios acquisition of “CODA” is still creating anxiety weeks after the Sundance Film Festival ended. The fear isn’t that streamers’ deep pockets will make it impossible for others to compete, although that’s certainly a possibility. The “CODA” angst belongs to a much larger question: How can Apple hold all worldwide rights to a film that’s already sold to territories all over the world?
When Apple bought worldwide rights to Sian Heder’s “CODA” for $25 million January 30, the financiers planned to make buyback deals with those rights holders. Nordisk Film, which pre-bought the rights nearly two years ago, confirmed to IndieWire that the company still plans to release the film in the Nordics. Nordisk isn’t alone in that in stance.
Many Sundance films come to the festival with all rights available — indie films can be a tough sell overseas as well — but “CODA” is the remake of an award-winning 2014 French film, “La Famille Bélier.” Financing on “CODA” came from French companies Vendôme Group, Pathé, and Patrick Wachsberger’s Picture Perfect Entertainment, but territory presales on “CODA” were crucial in getting the $10 million film made without a US distributor. Those international distributors participated in a bedrock strategy of independent film: Take the risk up front for the potential reward of a hit title.
Sun Distribution Group, which bought “CODA” for Latin America, was nonplussed by the Apple buy. “If we begin to accept this idea [of mandatory buyback clauses] we’d go out of business,” Sun executive director Ricardo Costianovsky told THR. “It would mean taking all the risk on flops and capping our upside on hits.”
Andrea Goretti, CEO of Italy’s Eagle Pictures, told Variety that he received a call from Pathé February 1 inquiring if the distributor would be willing to sell back Italian rights. In short: Nope. Not only did he still plan to release “CODA” for Christmas 2021, he’s already sold Pay TV and free TV rights in Italy. Eagle Pictures holds Italian rights on “CODA” for 20 years. Said Goretti, “We have no intention to give back these…