“Super/Man,” a documentary about the life of Christopher Reeve, is finalizing a deal to sell to Warner Bros. Discovery following its buzzy Sundance Film Festival premiere. It’s an interesting home for the documentary, because Reeve experienced his greatest commercial success playing the Man of Steel in the first four Superman movies, which Warner Bros. produced. James Gunn, the co-head of Warner-owned DC Studios, is currently reviving the character in the upcoming “Superman: Legacy,” which he wrote and will direct.
It’s unclear how the deal will be structured, but sources say that it could include some kind of distribution under the DC Studios banner, as well as involve some kind of showing on CNN, which Warner Bros. Discovery also owns. It would also involve showings on Max, the company’s streaming service. The sale has not closed, so it’s possible it could collapse at the eleventh hour, but the negotiations are exclusive.
Heading into the festival, “Super/Man” was expected to be one of the biggest sales of the event’s 40th edition. Before the movie was screened in Park City for audiences and buyers, several studios and streamers were already planning to bid aggressively to land rights. The pact is for global rights and is in the $14 million to $15 million range.
Tom Quinn’s specialty studio Neon was another enthusiastic bidder, while Netflix also looked at the film, according to two individuals with knowledge of the sale. Cinetic is handling the sale of the film.
Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui directed “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story,” which documents Reeve’s rise to superstardom as Superman, as well as his fight to find a cure for spinal cord injuries after he became a quadriplegic following a horse riding accident. The actor’s family participated in the making of the doc, which also uses personal archive material to tell the tragic and inspirational story.
Reeve’s children admitted the tragedy that plagued their father — he used a wheelchair and ventilator for the rest of his life — made him a better man.
“I think he was very conscious of that irony and the legacy of ‘Superman’ when people viewed his story and thought about him after the accident,” his daughter, Alexandra, told Variety prior to the film’s premiere. “He talked about redefining what it is to be a hero… it’s an everyday person who survives despite overwhelming obstacles.”
Bonhote and Ettedgui, who collaborated on the 2018 doc “McQueen,” expressed the desire to make a film about the challenges that face people — those from all walks of life — with disabilities.
“Christopher said the one minority anyone can become part of in an instant is disability,” Bonhote said. “We’re not trying to re-write Superman, but telling a story on how to approach an issue that society has turned its back on.”
Deadline first reported that Warner Bros. Discovery was in final negotiations.