Cillian Murphy’s ‘Small Things Like These’ Acquired by Lionsgate for North America, U.K.

“Small Things Like These,” the Irish drama starring newly-minted Oscar winner Cillian Murphy that opened the Berlinale earlier this year, finally has a domestic home, Variety has learned, with Lionsgate picking up the film for the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland.

The studio will partner with Roadside Attractions for its North American theatrical release.

More from Variety

Based on the Booker Prize-nominated book by Claire Keegan and directed by Tim Mielants, “Small Things Like These,” premiered to solid reviews in Berlin. The film sees Murphy star as Bill, a soft-spoken coal delivery driver and devoted father in 1980s Ireland who uncovers disturbing activity at the local convent — led by Emily Watson’s terrifying nun Sister Mary — that challenges his own internal traumas. Watson won the Berlinale’s Silver Bear for her performance.

Produced and financed by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Artists Equity, “Small Things Like These” also marks the first feature out of the blocks from Murphy’s new company Big Things Films, set up alongside producer and longtime collaborator Alan Maloney.

“Especially since ‘Small Things Like These’ marks the first project from Big Things Films, I’m particularly pleased Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will bring it to audiences in Ireland, the U.S. and U.K.,” Murphy said. “Making the film was labor of love; I can’t wait to talk about it. We are enormously grateful to Artists Equity for their unwavering support throughout this process. From the moment we shared the script, they have been there for us, and we are immensely grateful for their philosophy and partnership.”

Affleck and Damon, co-founders of Artists Equity, added: “When Cillian and Alan Moloney brought this project to us, we instantly said we wanted to help bring it to life. We couldn’t be prouder of that decision. This is simply a wonderful film, one that we think really does justice to Claire Keegan’s astounding, poignant novella. We are elated to partner with Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions so audiences across the U.S., U.K. and particularly Ireland will be able to see it.”

The film reunites director Mielants and Murphy, who previously worked together on the BAFTA-winning series “Peaky Blinders.” Enda Walsh, a longtime collaborator of Murphy’s, wrote the screenplay adaptation. Catherine Magee also serves as a producer along with Murphy and Moloney. For Artists Equity, Damon and Drew Vinton produce, and Affleck, Kevin Halloran and Michael Joe executive produce. The film is an Irish/Belgian co-production with additional funding coming from Screen Ireland. Belgium’s Wilder Films co-produced.

“We are incredibly proud to bring this film to audiences,” said Adam Fogelson, chair of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. “Claire Keegan’s book is a captivating, heart-wrenching, and empathetically told story of a character who uncovers not only a local mystery, but also discovers who he really is. Cillian is at the peak of his powers, both as an actor and a producer, and it’s exciting to work with Matt and Ben to distribute a film they have shepherded so lovingly. It’s especially meaningful for us to be distributing in Ireland, where we are confident audiences will embrace the film.”

Roadside Attractions’ co-presidents Eric d’Arbeloff and Howard Cohen added: “Seeing Cillian Murphy, one of the world’s greatest actors, back on his home turf in Ireland in such a powerful film will be a joy for film lovers. While everyone knows Emily Watson is also extraordinary, her performance in ‘Small Things Like These’ left us stunned when we saw the film in Berlin. We are so excited to be partnering with Lionsgate and Artists Equity on the release.”

The Lionsgate deal brings to an end a long wait to lock down U.S distribution on “Small Things Like These,” which was one of a number of buzzy, star-led features to have premiered earlier in the year to critical acclaim yet still to secure a domestic distribution partner. Speaking to Variety, industry experts suggest the lack of pay one deals was among the factors for the slower U.S. market, with distributors having to find individual partners for the first pay TV window for each individual film.

“Small Things Like These” was published in 2021 by Grove Press and quickly went on to critical acclaim, having been shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize. The book also won the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, the Ambassadors’ Prize for best Irish novel published in France, and The Kerry Prize for Irish Novel of the year. It was also longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.