Neon Acquires Naomi Watts’ Sundance Film ‘Luce’ in Partnership With Topic Studios

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Neon, in partnership with Topic Studios, has acquired the rights to “Luce” starring Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer.

The drama, directed by Julius Onah, is based on a play by J.C. Lee and was shot on 35mm. “Luce” features performances by Watts, Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr, and Tim Roth.  The film has garnered rave reviews since its Sundance premiere on Sunday.

“Luce” follows Amy and Peter Edgar (Watts and Roth), who adopted their son Luce (Harrison)  from war-torn Eritrea 10 years ago. Now Luce is an all-star student athlete, beloved by everyone. After a series of encounters with his teacher, Harriet Wilson (Spencer), questions about who Luce really is begin to emerge.

“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.”

Onah directed and co-wrote the film with Lee. John Baker. Onah and Andrew Yang produced. Rob Feng, Amber Wang and Lee executive produced, and Eric Ro served as a co-producer.

“It’s rare to find a project like ‘Luce’ that deftly explores issues of identity in a smart, sophisticated way,” said producer John Baker and executive producer Rob Feng in a statement. “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 negotiated by Neon and Topic Studios with CAA Media Finance and Endeavor Content on behalf of the filmmakers.

During the festival Neon premiered Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11 and John Chester’s “The Biggest Little Farm.” “Luce” marks Neon’s fourth acquisition at Sundance this year, having nabbed the rights to Alejandro Landes’ thriller, “Monos,” Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s horror film “The Lodge” and Abe Forsythe’s Lupita Nyong’o-led horror comedy “Little Monsters.”

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 $14 million. Topic Studios also had Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas’ feature debut “Pahokee,” which premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition and “Black 14,” a documentary short from acclaimed filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe.

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