Netflix landed North American rights for “May December,” a soapy romantic-drama directed by Todd Haynes and starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, which debuted at Cannes Film Festival. It sold for $11 million, marking the first big sale of this year’s festival.
Several bidders, including Neon, were in the mix before Netflix emerged victorious. The asking price for the domestic deal was initially $6 million, but the price tag ballooned as the bidding went on. The streamer hopes to position “May December” as an Oscar contender in the fall.
A scandalous age-gap relationship plays out at the center of “May December,” which debuted on Saturday to raves and earned a six-minute standing ovation. Moore plays the “December” to Charles Melton’s much-younger “May,” who was just 13 when the two fell in love. Given their 20-year age gap, their marriage inspired a national tabloid scandal. Decades later, their relationship is put to the test as an actress (Portman) travels to Georgia to study the life of Moore’s character, whom she’s set to play in a film.
“An age gap is one thing, but a relationship between an adult and a child is a different thing entirely,” Moore said at the film’s press conference. “The reason why this movie feels so dangerous watching it is because people don’t know where anyone’s boundaries are. It feels scary.”
Samy Burch penned the screenplay based on a story she wrote with Alex Mechanik. Jessica Elbaum and Will Ferrell of Gloria Sanchez Productions and Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler of Killer Films were producers on “May December” alongside Portman and Sophie Mas of MountainA.
Grant S. Johnson and Tyler W. Konney produced and fully financed through their respective companies Project Infinity and Taylor and Dodge.
CAA Media Finance and UTA Independent Film Group repped U.S. rights on the film, and Rocket Science handled international sales.
Haynes, the Oscar nominated screenwriter of “Far From Heaven,” is also known for the pop star-inspired “Velvet Goldmine,” romantic period drama “Carol,” Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” and the music documentary “The Velvet Underground.” He’s had several of his films premiere at Cannes, including “Velvet Goldmine,” “Carol” and “Wonderstruck.”
Deadline first reported the “May December” sale.