Zach Braff's Sundance Film Wish I Was Here Acquired By Focus Features
Zach Braff went to Sundance this year with a crowd-sourced indie comedy under one warm and a dream to follow up his beloved feature-film debut Garden State. He left with a distribution deal. Win!
Focus Features announced in a press release that it has acquired North American and select international distribution rights to Braff’s Wish I Was Here, which premiered at the festival over the weekend. "I am very excited to be partnering with Focus Features as they are one of the biggest supporters of independent film in the business. This is the perfect collaboration for us as they recognize and appreciate how unique our journey has been to get this film made," Braff said following the deal. "Their enthusiasm to embrace our Kickstarter backers, while we fulfill our promises and rewards, made them a natural fit. My 46,520 backers are amazingly supportive and without them this film would not be a reality"
Ah, yes. Braff’s controversial backers. At the time, when Braff announced he'd be using the popular Kickstarter to fund his movie, he came under fire from people who argued that celebrities with money shouldn’t be using Kickstarter to get personal projects off the ground. Braff’s campaign was extremely successful, meaning many of his loyal fans WANTED him to make this movie. Kickstarter failures like Melissa Joan Hart weren’t nearly as lucky.
Here is Braff’s charming Kickstarter video:
It worked. Braff got to make the movie he wanted to make, and Sundance crowds responded in kind. Variety said that the film "seems sure to placate die hard fans … while driving others to distraction." The Hollywood Reporter comments that Braff’s movie "feels like a more mature work [than Garden State] that dares to tackle complex topics such as religion and God in the face of death and the cost, for a struggling actor who also has to support a family, of asserting the right to live a dream."
Braff always has maintained a direct connection to his fans, and spoke to them over the weekend about the deal, saying:
I am so honored that you chose to support my vision and my dream, and so proud of what we have created together. You have been and will continue to be my most important audience, and my most valued friends."
Wish I Was Here tells the story of a thirty-something man who finds himself at a major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family. Co-written by Zach and Adam Braff, it stars Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene, Joey King and Pierce Gagnon. No word on a release date from Focus, but we’ll track the film’s progress.
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