Focus Features has acquired the worldwide rights to “Brian and Charles,” a quirky and heartfelt comedy about an unlikely friendship that debuted to rave reviews this week at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film centers on Brian, a lonely inventor in rural Wales, who builds unconventional contraptions that rarely work. He soon sets out on his biggest project yet — spending three days to turn a washing machine and various spare parts into Charles, an artificially intelligent robot who learns English from a dictionary and has an obsession with cabbages.
Polygon’s Oli Welsh praised the film’s “warmth and tenderness” while Thrillist’s Esther Zuckerman wrote that the movie is “adorably whimsical and downright touching.”
Director Jim Archer developed the film with Film4, which co-funded the production, and the BFI, which awarded funds from the National Lottery. It is based on a short film that Archer created and written by David Earl and Chris Hayward and produced by Rupert Majendie for Mr Box Productions. The executive producers are Damian Jones, Mary Burke for the BFI, and Lauren Dark and Ollie Madden for Film4.
Commented Majendie and director Jim Archer: “We have been so blown away by the reaction to the film from the Sundance audience and also want to say a huge thank you to the amazing teams at Film4, BFI & Bankside. They have all been amazing in their support of this little movie. We are incredibly excited to have found a partner in Focus who truly get this story and are as passionate about it as we are. We are still a little worried that they will wake up and realise they’ve just bought a film about a walking washing machine, but the ink is dry now so it’s too late!”
“Wait. What?” retorted Focus’ president of production & acquisitions Kiska Higgs.
Focus Features will distribute the film domestically and Universal Pictures will distribute internationally. Film4 will retain free TV rights to the film in the United Kingdom. Archer is represented by Independent Talent Group.
“Brian and Charles” stars David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie and Nina Sosanya. This marks Archer’s feature directorial debut. He started out by shooting comedy sketches with friends before writing and directing several short films, culminating in winning gold at the Young Director Awards in Cannes for the short film version of “Brian and Charles.”
The sale was handled by Bankside Films with Joe Toto and Carlen Johnson on behalf of Focus Features.