Apple showed its might, winning an auction for worldwide rights to the Ed Sheeran documentary “Songwriter” following its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The tech giant paid somewhere in the low- to mid-seven figures, people close to the deal confirmed to TheWrap.
“Songwriter,” directed by Sheeran’s cousin Murray Cummings, mainly follows the musician’s 2016 hiatus between touring his second album, “Multiply,” and writing his third album, “Divide.”
The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February and is screening this month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. “Songwriter” hasn’t been reviewed well, overall.
The Guardian said of the film: “Ed Sheeran is now the subject of this diverting but pretty incurious promo-video-style cheerleading documentary about the build-up to the release of Sheeran’s album, ‘Divide.’”
Apple, which has more than $280 billion cash on reserve, announced last year its plans to pony up $1 billion to invest in Hollywood content. The documentary was picked up by Apple Music.
During South by Southwest in March, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of software and services, said: “We’re completely all in. There’s a difference though; we’re not after quantity, we’re after quality,” said Cue. “We don’t try to sell the most smartphones in the world; we don’t try to sell the most apps, we try to make the best one.”
With former Sony execs Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg running the show, Apple has already brokered deals for a morning-show series from Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, as well as a TV series from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle.
30WEST brokered the deal for “Songwriter,” negotiating with Fox Rothschild’s Marc H. Simon for the filmmakers, while Larry Jackson negotiated for Apple.