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Searchlight Buys Sundance Midnight Pick ‘Fresh’ for Straight-to-Hulu Release

The move marks the continued expansion of Searchlight into the streaming realm.




Searchlight Pictures announced on Wednesday that it has acquired “Fresh,” Mimi Cave’s film about the horrors of modern dating, ahead of its Day One premiere next week in the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s Midnight section. The movie, which stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan, will head straight to streaming on Disney’s worldwide platforms in move that marks a deepening of Searchlight’s straight-to-streaming efforts.

Here’s the synopsis from Sundance: “Frustrated by scrolling dating apps only to end up on lame, tedious dates, Noa takes a chance by giving her number to the awkwardly charming Steve after a produce-section meet-cute at the grocery store. During a subsequent date at a local bar, sassy banter gives way to a chemistry-laden hookup, and a smitten Noa dares to hope that she might have actually found a real connection with the dashing cosmetic surgeon. She accepts Steve’s invitation to an impromptu weekend getaway, only to find that her new paramour has been hiding some unusual appetites.”

The film was written by Lauryn Kahn, in a follow-up to her feature screenwriting debut for Netflix’s 2018 movie “Ibiza.” Adam McKay and Kevin Messick produced through their HyperObject Industries, with Maeve Cullinane as a co-producer.

The crafts team includes cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski (“Hereditary,” “Midsommar”), editor Martin Pensa (“Dallas Buyers Club”), production designer Jennifer Morden (“Riot Girls”), and composer Alex Somers (“Honey Boy”).

“’Fresh’ is a wildly allegorical story, yet the film carries strings of truth throughout that I hope resonate for different audiences,” Cave said in an official statement. “I’m so pleased to be working with the Searchlight team to bring our film to the world and can’t wait for people to see the brilliant performances Daisy and Sebastian give.”

The film marks Cave’s feature directorial debut. She began her career as a choreographer and director of music videos and has helmed several videos for Sylvan Esso, Tune-Yards, and Vance Joy. She has also directed short films, most recently “I’m Happy, I Promise,” which was part of the 2020 SXSW lineup.

After its Sundance premiere on January 20, “Fresh” will stream on Hulu in the U.S. on March 4 and later premiere internationally on Star+ in Latin America and on Disney+ in other territories.

Since Searchlight joined the Disney fold after the 20th Century Fox acquisition, the distributor has expanded from its roots as a purveyor of buzzy specialty titles for theatrical release. In addition to theatrical releases, Searchlight is now charged with sourcing content for Disney’s streaming emprise.

Last year, it released “Nomadland” and “Summer of Soul” in theaters before the films were available on Disney+. In the fall, Searchlight released “The Night House,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “The French Dispatch,” “Antlers,” and “Nightmare Alley” in theaters.

Under the leadership of presidents Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum, Searchlight expects to continue its typical level of theatrical output while also expanding its slate to include movies that head straight to Hulu and other Disney platforms.

“’Fresh’ upends all romance tropes and boldly comments on the precarious nature of the modern dating experience,” Greenfield and Greenbaum said in a statement. “Mimi Cave has brilliantly brought Lauryn Kahn’s razor sharp script to the screen, and gives audiences something they will savor from beginning to end.”

Additionally, its Searchlight Television division has spawned the upcoming Hulu Original limited series “The Dropout” from Michael Showalter, while new films like Tom George’s “See How They Run” and Taika Waititi’s ”Next Goal Wins” are preparing for upcoming theatrical releases.

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