As Sundance Film Festival comes to a close this weekend, Apple has secured the worldwide rights for one of the festival’s favorites, Cha Cha Real Smooth—directed and written by Cooper Raiff. The company paid a cool $15 million for the rights.
25-year-old Raiff stars in the feature as a directionless college graduate in New Jersey who starts dating a single mother, played by Dakota Johnson. Leslie Mann, Brad Garrett, Vanessa Burghardt, Raul Castillo, and Evan Assante all star in Cha Cha Real Smooth alongside Raiff and Johnson.
In A.A. Dowd’s coverage of Cha Cha Real Smooth for AVC, he writes:
“Raiff is an ace at writing naturalistic screwball banter, and a supremely likable leading man: extroverted but self-deprecating, his default impulse to enthusiastically validate people colliding sometimes with his inability to resist a caustic quip. (The character’s interactions with Brad Garrett, who he exclusively refers to as “Stepdad Greg,” are gut-busting.) It’s not easy to develop a comic voice that feels entirely singular, but Raiff pulls it off here. And for better or worse, the whole movie is built atop his gregarious shtick, a fruitful blend of emotional openness and emotional immaturity.
I was as won over as the bar mitzvah crowd he goofily coaxes onto the dance floor. Cha Cha Real Smooth is, at heart, a warm variation on the Judd Apatow prolonged-adolescence comedy, complete with a terrific Leslie Mann in the role of Andrew’s mother. But it ends up proving surprisingly wise in admitting how lacking in wisdom we all are in our early 20s—especially during the expertly written scenes between Raiff and Johnson, who delivers maybe the most relaxed, lovely performance of her career as a thirtysomething woman going through her own growing pains parallel and perpendicular to Andrew’s.”
As Dowd predicted, the film is officially the biggest sale of the festival, but still falls short of the record-breaking sale Apple made last year purchasing the buzzy CODA for $25 million. Other sales of the festival include Searchlight/Hulu’s closing on the U.S. rights deal for Good Luck To You, Leo Grande and Sony Pictures Classics purchase of the drama Living.