Sundance Film Festival News

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.

So far, the Sundance Film Festival is only a couple days in but there have been a number of big buzz movies and one that had everyone excited sight unseen is the latest comedy from Lynn Shelton, Laggies, starring Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell and Chloe Moretz. After generally positive reactions following its premiere on Friday night, the distributors are circling and fledgling distributor A24 has stepped up to join the bidding war to distribute the film.

This is Shelton's third year in a row at Sundance, having brought her previous movie Touchy Feely there last year and My Sister's Sister, starring Emily Blunt, RoseMarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass a year earlier.

Sam Rockwell has been a regular at Sundance for many many years, appearing in movies like Choke, Moon and last year's The Way, Way Back, the directorial debut by The Descendants' Oscar-winning co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. This year, Rockwell is appearing in Lynn Shelton's new movie Laggies, which is premiering tonight.

Deadline has the scoop that Rockwell will be reuniting with some of the filmmakers behind The Way, Way Back as he has been attached to star in The Eel, a script that made it onto the Black List that is being directed by Roberto Bentivegna. The deal was made just as Rockwell arrived in Park City for the premiere of Laggies, which co-stars Keira Knightley and Chloe Moretz.

Lionsgate and CNN Films have acquired North American rights to the documentary Dinosaur 13 at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The film will be released theatrically with a North American broadcast premiere on CNN/U.S. Dinosaur 13 is directed and produced by Todd Miller.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival just kicked things off last night with its Opening Night Galas and hot on the heels of Magnolia and Paramount grabbing the distribution rights to Joe Swanberg's Happy Christmas, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) has grab be the rights to several international territories for Damien Chazelle's opening night film Whiplash, starring Miles Teller (Footloose) and J.K. Simmons. It will be distributed in North America by Sony Pictures Classics.

The Wagner/Cuban Company's Magnolia Pictures and Paramount Pictures announced today a collaboration to bring Happy Christmas to theatrical and home viewing audiences. The new film, written and directed by Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) and produced by Swanberg, Peter Gilbert and co-produced by Alicia Van Couvering, will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this Sunday. Happy Christmas stars Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham and Swanberg.

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, January 16, and it's another year where many first-time filmmakers as well as Sundance vets make the trek to Park City, Utah, to show off their latest movie. As always, there are a number of exciting premieres, either due to who is involved behind the camera or the talent in front of it, and sadly, the Weekend Warrior isn't able to make it out this year, so he'll just have to watch from afar and see what gets buzz.

Last year was a good year for the festival with movies like Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station and the comedy The Way Way Back, both being picked up for distribution and doing quite well at the box office. There were other movies that didn't fare nearly as well but still made quite a mark over the course of the year.

The Sundance Film Institute announced another round of films premiering at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, naming the films that will be shown in the appropriately-titled "Premieres" and "Documentary Premieres."

Some of the highlights include Gareth Evan's Indonesian action sequel The Raid 2, Lynn Shelton's latest Laggies; They Came Together from director David Wain, a romantic comedy which reunites much of the cast of Wet Hot American Summer, notably Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler; Cavalry, the second film from The Guard director John Michael McDonagh, again starring Brendan Gleeson; and the Anton Corbjin-directed adaptation of John Le Caree's A Most Wanted Man, plus many more.

The Sundance Film Institute announced more films for their 2014 Sundance Film Festival, the 30th Anniversary of the Park City event, notably the films in the "Spotlight" and "Park City at Midnight" series.

The "Spotlight" series is made up of selected films that may have had their world premieres elsewhere, while the "Park City at Midnight" section are all World Premieres and both sections have many familiar names and faces to the Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance Institute today announced the 56 films that will be playing in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, the 30th Anniversary of the annual Park City film celebration that will end up with 117 films total, all to be announced in the next few days.

Some of the standouts in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, the festival section that's produced a number of movies that have gone on to huge acclaim, both at the box office and during awards season include Justin Simien's Dear White People, an extension of his viral short film; Cold in July, the latest venture from Jim Mickle and Nick Damici (Stakeland); Camp X-Ray starring Kristen Stewart, Joe Swanberg's Happy Christmas; the comedy Life After Beth starring Aubrey Plaza; and The Skeleton Twins, starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig.

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