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Focus Features Picks Up Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here

Source:   Focus Features , Edward Douglas
January 19, 2014




There was a lot of chatter when Garden State writer/director and former "Scrubs" star Zach Braff decided to launch a Kickstarter for his new movie Wish I Was Here last April, but he did reach his financial goal and the movie did get made. In fact, the movie was added late to the roster at this year's Sundance Film Festival, mere weeks before the festival began. Of course, there was a lot of immediate interest due to the success of Braff's previous Sundance movie, as Garden State became a hugely popular cult rom-com hit that grossed $26.8 million theatrically on a $2.5 million budget.

It looks like the "new" Focus Features saw the movie and made a fairly aggressive bid of $2.75 million for Braff's latest, hoping that it will have as much success as Garden State did.

In the movie, Braff plays a struggling actor named Aidan Bloom who is trying to find his identity at the age of 35 but can't seem to find a purpose to his life as he and his wife (Kate Hudson) go aimlessly through life, barely able to survive financially. When Aidan's father can no longer pay for his kids to go to private school, Aidan agrees to home school them, although he might not be grounded enough to accomplish such a feat.

The movie also stars Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene, Jim Parsons, Braff's "Scrubs" co-star Donald Faison and the late James Avery in his final role.

The movie played like gangbusters last night at its premiere and according to reports, there was a huge round of applause when the list of Kickstarter supporters showed up in the end credits.

Here's the full press release:

Focus Features announced today that it has acquired North American and select international distribution rights to the comedy WISH I WAS HERE, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

WISH I WAS HERE is Braff's follow-up to his indie breakout hit GARDEN STATE. WISH I WAS HERE was directed by Zach Braff from a screenplay he wrote with his brother, Adam; and stars Zach Braff along with Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene, Joey King and Pierce Gagnon. 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. WISH I WAS HERE was produced by Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg, and Zach and Adam Braff. Christopher Woodrow, Molly Conners, Maria Cestone, Sarah E. Johnson and Hoyt David Morgan executive produced. In addition to North America, Focus has acquired the distribution rights to film in Poland and South Africa.

“We are thrilled to be in business with Zach Braff,” said Focus Features CEO Peter Schlessel. “GARDEN STATE was a huge benchmark in the world of independent film, and we are looking forward to continuing to support Zach and his unique voice. With WISH I WAS HERE, he has once again delivered a film that perfectly captures something essential about our lives, and presents it with the laughter and emotion we all recognize.”

“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," says Braff. “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“

Braff made headlines when he announced that WISH I WAS HERE would be funded by the crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a platform where backers support projects to help them come to life, in return for non-financial rewards and participation in community.

WISH I WAS HERE is the second feature film for Focus at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, following its production THE SIGNAL, which is world-premiering on Monday night, January 20th, @Midnight. Directed by Will Eubank, the latter thriller stars Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp, and Laurence Fishburne.

The distribution agreement for rights to WISH I WAS HERE as negotiated by Focus Features Executive Vice President, Business Affairs Beth Lemberger; and CAA on behalf of the filmmakers and producers.


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