Zach Braff’s ‘Wish I Was Here’ will hit theaters July 18


The movie financed by audiences will soon be available to audiences.

Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here,” funded in part by more than 46,000 donors on Kickstarter, will hit theaters in Los Angeles and New York on July 18, distributor Focus Features said Thursday. It will roll out to other cities in the weeks following,

The date means Focus, which acquired the movie at the Sundance Film Festival last month, will position the relationship-oriented “Wish” as a summer counter-programmer -- call it an emotional tent pole -- a la “Little Miss Sunshine,” instead of dating it for the early fall, when it would be out of the cross-hairs of the big summer movies but somewhat more dependent on reviews.


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Instead, the film will open against a number of science-fiction tent poles, including the Wachowskis’ “Jupiter Ascending” (July 18) and Marvel’s ensemble space comedy “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Aug 1). Those films are of course very different from “Wish,” though they could attract the attention of some of the male audience the Braff film covets. (Interestingly, though “Wish” is decidedly in the family dramedy category, it also has sci-fi elements via a few fantasy sequences and even features a scene shot at Comic-Con.)

Braff’s follow-up to “Garden State” centers on a father, played by the director, attempting to come to terms with issues such as faith, family and ambition. It was written by Braff and his brother Adam and stars Kate Hudson as the wife of Braff’s character and Mandy Patinkin as his father.

When Braff announced the project on Kickstarter last spring -- eschewing traditional financing in the interest of greater creative control -- he quickly raised several million dollars, but also generated a backlash among some who said crowd-funding should be used by filmmakers who lack any measure of Hollywood celebrity. Braff, for his part, has said that though he was indeed better known than many Kickstarter entrepreneurs, his film was funded with, and required, a spirit of independence to reach its full potential. “Wish” went on to be a big crowd pleaser at Sundance, where it also polarized some critics.

The first major crowd-funding experiment hits in April when “Veronica Mars” comes out via Warner Bros. Braff’s movie, though, in some ways tests the model further, lacking the built-in brand recognition that “Mars” comes with. The marketing question, then, will be how the thousands of donors who contributed to the project -- a kind of built-in group of citizen evangelists -- might play a role in opening the independent film.


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