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May 19, 2024

Eisenberg’s “A Real Pain” Makes Splash at Sundance with Record Searchlight Deal

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Jan 21, 2024

Jesse Eisenberg’s new dramedy “A Real Pain” premiered Friday night at the Sundance Film Festival, earning strong reviews and a record-breaking $10 million distribution deal from Searchlight Pictures after a bidding war.

Rave Reviews for Eisenberg’s Directorial Debut

“A Real Pain” marks Eisenberg’s first time directing a feature he also stars in. He plays a young man who goes on a road trip with his uncle (Kieran Culkin) to confront long-buried family trauma. The film blends drama and humor as the characters unpack generational grief.

Reviews out of Sundance have been glowing, especially praising Eisenberg’s directing and Culkin’s “best performance of his career” as the witty but troubled uncle.

“A Real Pain succeeds thanks to Eisenberg’s sharp script and firm directorial hand, as well as a knockout turn from Culkin,” writes The Hollywood Reporter.

IndieWire calls it “a sneaky comedy about how we inherit damage from our elders and make it our own cross to bear.”

Searchlight Nabs Film for Record Sundance Price

The rave reception sparked a bidding war for distribution rights, with Searchlight Pictures ultimately winning out with a deal reportedly north of $10 million. If confirmed, it would be the biggest sale ever at Sundance, surpassing past records like “Palm Springs” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

“We are over the moon about this magnificent film,” said Searchlight presidents David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield. “Will Sharpe has crafted a funny, heartwarming story about family and we cannot wait to share their journey with audiences everywhere.”

Eisenberg, Culkin and director Will Sharpe were overcome with emotion when the deal was announced, sharing a group hug on stage.

“I’ve never had something I’ve written have this kind of response,” Eisenberg told the cheering Eccles Theatre audience. “It means the absolute world.”

Film Sundance Sales Price
A Real Pain $10+ million (reported)
Palm Springs $17.5 million
Little Miss Sunshine $10.5 million

Next Steps for “A Real Pain”

With the record Sundance sale, “A Real Pain” is already being talked about as an early Oscar contender next year. Searchlight is expected to release it this fall to qualify for 2024 awards consideration.

“Kieran Culkin gives the performance of his career in a very funny, moving film about how we can’t escape our pasts,” tweets critic Tim Grierson.

For Eisenberg, the rapturous reception will likely open even more doors in Hollywood. He previously wrote and directed the 2019 comedy “When You Finish Saving the World.” But “A Real Pain” represents a major step forward as he tackles more complex material behind the camera.

As for Culkin, this represents his biggest starring film role to date outside of HBO’s hit show “Succession,” for which he earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations last year. With “A Real Pain” sparking Oscar buzz, Culkin seems poised to break out even further on the big screen.

The rest of Sundance will determine what other films may break out this year. But “A Real Pain” has already made the biggest splash, bringing Eisenberg and Culkin to tears with its warm reception. After this weekend’s premiere, the road ahead for “A Real Pain” looks very bright indeed.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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