“Wish I Was Here” Reviews Are In, Braff Nets Distribution Deal For Film At Sundance

Zach Braff on Kickstarter

Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-funded feature film Wish I Was Here premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week. Reviews were mixed, of course…

And to those who thought Braff was out of line asking for a hand-out, be satisfied in knowing that his second directorial effort — which made its world premiere on January 18 at the Sundance Film Festival — is just as emotionally rich and heartfelt as his 2004 coming of age classic Garden State.Us Magazine

Though in many ways a similarly quirky and touching film, with again an actor played by Braff in the lead and the death of a parent a major plot point, Wish I Was Here thankfully also feels like a more mature work 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.Hollywood Reporter

After exploring twentysomething Millennial malaise in his 2004 hit “Garden State,” Zach Braff shifts his attention to mid-thirties, post-marital anomie in “Wish I Was Here,” a cloying compendium of follow-your-dreams platitudes, new-agey spirituality and mawkish, father-son deathbed bonding that strains so hard to recapture “Garden State’s” calculating but effective blend of whimsy and pathos that it nearly gives itself a hernia. The product of Braff’s much-discussed Kickstarter campaign, “Wish” seems sure to placate die-hard fans of the writer-director-star (who films himself in adoring close-up throughout) while driving others to distraction. Nostalgia for Braff’s debut pic plus Kickstarter-centric buzz should equate to solid niche biz, though perhaps softer than “Garden State’s” $26 million domestic cume.Variety

It feels as though it would have been better served as a six-part sitcom, where its sentimentality, broad comedy and fantasy elements wouldn’t rub up against each other so badly.The Telegraph

zach-braff-wish-i-was-hereDespite mixed reviews – and as Braff would probably be quick to point out – this film wasn’t made for the critics. It was made for 46,520 backers that chipped in over $3.1 million to his Kickstarter campaign, and all signs point to the product of their efforts being worth the wait and the work. One Kickstarter backer took to the comments to summarize how the entire effort was about more than money. “On the eve of my 35th birthday and the day after you premiered your movie, I realize we mean so much more to the people who share our lives. I am so proud to help support the next leg of your journey.”

Braff netted a distribution deal from Focus Features in which he signs away North American and some foreign distribution rights according to an article in BuzzFeed.  The deal was worth $2.75 million. Braff released a statement on the deal: “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. 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.”

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