PREVIOUS: Focus Features is getting on the board here at Sundance, just closing a distribution rights deal to Wish I Was Here, the film which Zach Braff wrote and directed, and stars as a father struggling to home school his kids. Braff stars with Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Jim Parsons, Ashley Greene, Pierce Gagnon and Joey King. The deal is $2.75 million for a theatrical release over 500 screens, and generous P&A to support it. There is also a strong back end.
Interest in this one kick-started right after the film debuted Saturday night at the MARC. It came in as one of the high profile pics at Sundance, by merit of the Kickstarter crowd funding campaign undertaken by Braff and his producers, Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg and Adam J. Braff. The film was repped by CAA with Wild Bunch. Kickstarter and Worldview financed the film.
It’s the first major acquisition since Peter Schlessel took over the shingle.
PARK CITY, UTAH – January 19, 2014 – 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.