Julius Onah’s thriller Luce has sold to NEON and Topic Studios at the Sundance Film Festival. Both studios have taken domestic rights to the feature, which is based on JC Lee’s play and premiered Sunday in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.
Luce marks NEON’s fourth acquisition at Sundance this year, having previously taken rights to Alejandro Landes’ cinematic thriller Monos, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s horror film, The Lodge and Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters.
Luce centers on Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) who adopted their son Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) from war-torn Eritrea 10 years ago. Luce is now an all-star student athlete, beloved by everyone. After a series of encounters with his teacher, Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer), questions about who Luce really is begin to emerge. A thrilling psychological drama, Luce addresses such themes as identity, truth, individuality and race. Onah shot the movie on 35mm.
Onah co-wrote the pic with Lee. John Baker, Onah and Andrew Yang produced. Rob Feng, Amber Wang and Le executive produced. Eric Ro co-produced.
“It’s been a real thrill premiering Luce at Sundance. After hearing NEON’s passion and excitement for the film, I know there is no better partner,” Onah said in a statement. “Tom Quinn and his entire team have shown a clear vision for Luce with great enthusiasm. I look forward to continuing the journey of this film with NEON and Topic Studios as we share this story and the amazing performances of my cast with the world.”
Added Baker and Feng: “It’s rare to find a project like Luce that deftly explores issues of identity in a smart, sophisticated way. It’s even more rare to find a home like NEON and Topic Studios, where our new partners are both passionate about the film and have the skill to capitalize on all the strengths of Julius’ nuanced thriller. This is an exciting chapter for all of us and we look forward to collaborating with NEON and Topic Studios in bringing this film to audiences everywhere.”
The deal was hammered out by NEON and Topic Studios with CAA Media Finance and Endeavor Content on behalf of the filmmakers.
NEON recently premiered Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 and John Chester’s The Biggest Little Farm at this year’s Sundance. NEON recently received an Oscar nomination for Border.
Topic Studios had several films at Sundance including Scott Z. Burns’ political thriller The Report starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening and Jon Hamm which sold to Amazon for $14M; Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas’ feature debut Pahokee which premiered to a rousing response in the U.S. Documentary Competition; and Black 14, a docu short from Darius Clark Monroe.
Current feature projects at Topic include Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace (which bowed at Sundance last year); the political documentary Dark Money, from director Kimberly Reed; Steven Soderbergh’s Panama Papers drama The Laundromat, starring Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas; and the comedic drama The Climb from the filmmaking team of Michael Covino and Kyle Marvin. The studio is also behind the documentary XY Chelsea, about the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, acquired by Showtime.