EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is nearing a deal to acquire worldwide rights to Passing, the Rebecca Hall-directed and -scripted drama that stars Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, Andre Holland and Alexander Skarsgard. Sources said the deal will land at around a $15.75 million.
The drama is about two African-American women who can “pass” as white, and who choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York. The drama is a compelling exploration of racial and gender identity, performance, obsession and repression. Passing competed in the U.S. Drama Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.
Along with CODA, it was the most eagerly awaited acquisition title to hit Sundance, and with this deal, it does not disappoint. The film is a real statement of female empowerment, with Hall making her helming debut on the Nella Larsen novella, and Thompson and Negga turning in powerhouse performances. Netflix competed in a field of five bidders, and will do one of its top-shelf awards streaming releases with a theatrical distribution component.
Pic is produced by Forest Whitaker, Nina Yang Bongiovi and Margot Hand. Film4 is co-financier. Daniel Battsek, Ollie Madden, Lauren Dark, Joseph Restaino, Dori Rath, Oren Moverman, Angela Robinson, Erika Hampson, Michael Y Chow, Kevin A Lin, Brenda Robinson, Chaz Ebert, Yvonne Huff, Christopher Liu, Arcadiy Golubovich, David Gendron, and Ali Jazayeri are the exec producers.
The deal was brokered by Endeavor Content.
That makes two blockbuster deals at Sundance, after Apple acquired CODA for $25 million. There will be many sales following the end of this virtual Sundance festival, but these were expected to be the big ones at a market with Covid adversity. Mission accomplished.